The Varying Reactions to the Marcus Benard Motorcycle Accident

I don’t know how the rest of you feel about Marcus Benard and all he went through (put himself through) over the last few days.  Certainly it was a race to get all the details as quickly as possible in the local media.  John Telich ran ahead of the pack on that one like it was a double marathon trail run that he so diligently trains for.  But after the details are all known and after the Browns put him on the IR it strikes me as odd with some of the angry, punitive reactions toward Benard.

I understand a feeling of disappointment that someone that the team and its fans were counting on would put himself and his career at risk.  There is certainly a part of me that looks at his actions on some level as potentially being irresponsible, immature and yes, possibly even stupid.  Still, I would tend to avoid calling it stupid because it just seems harsh.  It seems like adding insult to injury with no net benefit to anyone.

A friend of mine seemed particularly hot and bothered by it yesterday and wanted the Browns to make an example of Marcus Benard by cutting him.  Something about that just didn’t seem quite right to me.  I think the Browns could potentially be within their rights to cut bait, but there is a part of me that believes in organizations maintaining some level of fairness and compassion.

The current Browns front office wasn’t here when Kellen Winslow crashed his motorcycle, but we’ve seen this scenario play out around the league when the player is higher profile.  The Steelers didn’t cut Ben Roethlisberger just like the Browns didn’t cut Kellen Winslow because both organizations hoped that they would still be able to get something from the players.  Just because a situation arises with a player who isn’t on the same level doesn’t mean to me that an organization should be so callous as to use it as an opportunity to make some kind of example of him.  When it is a guy like Marcus Benard on a one-year contract for about $500,000 after leading the team in sacks, it seems more mean-spirited and punitive than serving as a cautionary tale to others in the locker room.

If you wouldn’t make an example of Ben Roethlisberger or Kellen Winslow, what message are you really sending when you make one of Marcus Benard?

Honestly, does this need to end in the Browns cutting Benard to become some kind of teachable moment for the Browns staff and players?  Benard had a lot to play for this year on a one-year deal.  Now he faces an even more uncertain future considering the lost opportunity to prove he deserves his next contract.  Now there is additional haziness at that prospect due to the injuries sustained in the motorcycle crash.  NFL players only get so many chances to cash in in this league.  Marcus Benard potentially could have just cost himself a biggie at age 26.

It seems like punishment enough and enough of a cautionary tale that nobody really has to do much of anything else.  People make mistakes.  Yes, people do stupid things sometimes.  Sometimes the effects of the mistake serve as enough of a self-imposed punishment that you just let it sit there and hope for a guy’s well-being.

At least that’s how I feel about it.  Are any of you legitimately angry about it?  Can you make me understand why and to what ends?

  • I don’t think Bernard should be cut, but I think he should lose his paycheck if there was something in his contract or the Cleveland Browns player code of conduct regarding riding a motorcycle.

    Part of his job is being physically able to hit the practice and playing fields. Part of his job will involve getting injured on the field. Consciously engaging in activities off the field that significantly increase his chances of injury should be avoided.

    Yeah, every time you get out of bed, your chance of injury increases, but you have to get out of bed. You don’t have to get on a motorcycle to get from point A to point B. (And you don’t have to be driving it like an a-hole.) I would think as a professional athlete, you’d want to protect the goods… but I’m not 26 years old and making $500k a year.

    Just my opinion. Personally, in a country where people can’t put their phone down from point A to point B (including texting), I don’t want to be on a vehicle without damage control like seat belts, air bags and considerable barriers between myself and the next vehicle.

  • Mark

    Not angry. Disappointed. I feel bad for Marcus Benard. He made a dumb decision and it will cost him dearly. No need for the front office to pile on.

  • Lyon

    I’m disappointed too. disappointed he made a stupid decision. But I don’t want him cut. He has the talent to be a good defensive player, and that is not something we can get rid of without compensation in return.

    Let’s hope he has a speedy recovery and can come back next year and play well for us again.

  • Jay

    There’s no way you can cut this guy. I whole-heartedly agree that what he did was beyond stupid, but you can’t cut the guy. What message would that send to the rest of the players in the orginization? You make a bad decision and we’ll cut ties with you. That’s not the leadership I want on my team. The guy led the team in sacks, was having a decent season this year as well. Plus, he only broke his hand (last I heard). So the chances of him making a full recovery are a lot better than if he’d of broken a leg, torn an ACL, or something of that nature.

  • Hetz

    Cutting a guy as punishment because he had an accident is illogical and unjust.

    That being said Benard should forfeit at least a portion of his pay as he chose to take the risk he did, even thougn it wasn’t a real motorcycle.

    The guy’s a 26 year old millionaire who plays football for a living. Things happen. I wish him a full recovery.

  • Well, here’s an answer…

    MaryKayCabot Mary Kay Cabot
    The #Browns will pay Marcus Benard the rest of his 2011 salary ($370K)despite fact he’s on nonfootball injury list, league source told PD.

  • kiddicus

    The worst thing here? He was riding a crotch-rocket instead of a real bike.

  • Woods

    Well, the Browns already guranteed the salary for the rest off the year. A classy move by the front office. I hope they signed him to a contract for 2012 as a condition for guaranteeing his 2011 salary.

    You may call it harsh or cruel, but I don’t see the value of guaranteeing the salary of a free agent to be for reckless conduct that most likely violates his contract without receiving something tangible in return – like a signature on a future contact.

    I wish Bernard a full and swift recovery. He is lucky to be alive.
    Hope he recovers from what looks to be an ugly accident.

  • MikeB

    For what it’s worth, it should be pointed out that Benard was driving a Can-Am, which is a lot more stable and safe than a traditional motorcycle, so let’s just cut out any comparisons to Kellen Winslow’s trick-riding accident on a souped-up crotch-rocket. Sure, it’s not as safe as a Hummer or something, and I’m sure it was outside the terms of his contract, but I haven’t read anything that tells me he was being overly reckless. He was doing the same thing that any of the rest of us enjoy doing on a daily basis, the only difference being that he’s a highly-paid athlete who had more to lose than we do because he depends on his physical ability to earn a living.

  • brickfrenzy

    It wasn’t a crotch-rocket. It wasn’t even a 2 wheeler. It was a Can-Am Spyder, a friggin’ TRIKE. How lame can you get?

  • Foghorn Leghorn

    So… what exactly is his punishment? He is still getting all of his money. I think we look soft here. DOnt need to cut him, but we should have docked his pay. Its in the contract for a reason.

    Also, the difference between the Winslow and Roethlisberger situation is that this our second one of these incidents in 6 years. New regime and players or not, every player on this team should be well aware of these risks, arguably more than any other team with maybe the exception of the Steelers and Buccaneers.

    Finally, it does matter that he is Marcus Benard and not a pro-bowl player. You can argue the fairness of that all you want, but this is professional sports. Certain players get certain breaks that the rest dont. Youre naive if you cant see that or would try to fight it. Its just the nature of the business. (ex. how many rape charges could Marcus Bernard rack up before he got cut? Big Ben didnt)

  • OmegaKing

    Foghorn – what a terribly cynical viewpoint. “You’re naive if you …would try to fight it.” So, just because other people are doing something, we should all just accept it and move on? Not only that, but actively participate in that behavior?

    No. I refuse to accept that you should be unfair to someone just because everyone else is doing it. The Browns aren’t really losing anything (except money – and not a lot in pro football terms) in this deal, so what harm is there in it? It doesn’t mean the whole roster is going to go out and get bikes now just because they think the organization is “soft.” That’s ridiculous. If anything, they may think that the organization will stand with them if they run into some difficulty. I don’t see any harm in that.

  • Shamrock

    Crashing a three wheeler takes some real skill. You think he could have afforded a better tricycle.

  • Mike in Seattle

    I must have missed it when Big Ben was actually charged with rape. Link me up, please. Thanks.

  • Foghorn Leghorn

    @ Mike.. “accused” sorry, poor choice of legal wording. I didnt think charged implied actual court hearings, just the kick off of an investigation…does it? Not a lawyer (obviously).

    @OmegaKing. This is reality. Im not saying players cant fight this system, but politics and money are critical to what Im talking in the separation of certain players from others. It is what it is. Just like certain people can buy their way out of problems or use their celebrity to cheat the system (whatever the situation), so do pro athletes. Owners invest millions and millions in some players. Others get paid league minimum. Do you think if TO wasnt as productive as he was, that he would have been scorned by the league long ago?? What about Tank Williams or Beanie Wells? The minute they showed they couldnt hack it anymore they were gone.

    My examples might not be perfect, but I think you get my point. Also, the Player’s Union does stick up for the lesser known players, but it in no way makes up for the discrepancy in treatment in my mind, and like I said, AS OF RIGHT NOW, thats the way it is. If Bernard told me he wasnt worrying about losing his money and/or his contract because of Winslow and Big Ben getting away with it, he’s either crazy or he knows the Browns love him that much. As a backup DL, he should’ve worried.

    Lastly, I still think it makes us a bit soft. Thats not such a bad thing, (there are benefits, its not a completely derogatory word), but I would like to see the Browns hold these guys accountable. Shurmur supposedly has a way to deal with this but wont disclose it. I’d like to know what it is to judge the severity of it.

  • Oh Really?!

    #1 Quit saying he’s a millionaire. If dude makes 500K/yr, he’s bringing home about 270K afer taxes.

    #2 If he were a millionaire, does that make him less human and less worthy of sympathy when in an accident? At what income level can we feel sorry for someone when they’re hurt badly? 200K? 100K?

    #3 Sidenote: I read on Yahoo that dude flew 240 ft IN THE AIR! That’s right – 80 yards!

    #4 I love how everyone on here wants guys whose job it is to risk their bodies and their safety every day on the field to walk around in their personal lives like they’re made of glass. These people chose to play football for their career. They chose to have the strongest, fastest armored human missiles smashed up against them or flung at their bodies for their job. And you don’t expect these guys to be thrill seekers in their personal lives??? GET REAL!

  • TobaccoRoad

    I don’t think the Browns should cut Benard, but I would have no problem with them not paying him. I’m glad they are paying him, but realize they’re under no obligation to.

    I think the most disappointing aspects of Benard’s behavior are that 1) he just had his first child barely a year ago and 2) As you mentioned, this was a BIG year in terms of his career and future in the NFL.

    Now, he’s lost it to injuries that I believe are a lot more serious than have been released. You don’t stay overnight in the Cleveland Clinic for three days/nights for just a broken hand.

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