Former NFL running back Cedric Benson, one of the most prolific rushers in NCAA and University of Texas history, died in a motorcycle accident Saturday night in Austin, Texas. According to CBS Austin, a woman in her 30s was also killed in the crash, which involved a motorcycle and minivan.
Benson, 36, was a key player in the Longhorns’ resurgence under coach Mack Brown, who said Sunday that Benson’s death has left him grief-stricken.
“He was as good as you’ll ever see as a football player and as tough as they come,” said Brown, who recently returned to coach North Carolina following a long run at Texas. “But what I’ll remember most is what a special, special person he was. We always enjoyed talking with him because he was such a bright and unique guy. There will never be another one like him, and he will be dearly missed by so many. It’s just heartbreaking, but we feel very fortunate to have had him in our lives.”
Benson was one of the top high school recruits out of the West Texas town of Midland. He played at Texas from 2001-2004 and his 5,540 yards ranks second at the university and ninth in NCAA history. He scored 64 career touchdowns with the Longhorns and won the Doak Walker award, given to the nation’s top running back, in 2004.
He was the only player in school history to rush for at least 1,000 yards in four seasons and was inducted into the university’s Hall of Honor in 2014.
Benson was drafted No. 4 overall by the Bears in 2005 and helped Chicago reach the playoffs the following season. He had his finest years with Cincinnati from 2008-11, taking over as the featured back on a team that made the playoffs twice but lost in the first round each time.
Benson ran for a career-high 1,251 yards while leading a playoff push in 2009, the first of three straight 1,000-yard seasons. He also led the Bengals to the playoffs in 2011, when Andy Dalton and A.J. Green arrived as rookies.
“Cedric was a fine football player for us,” Bengals President Mike Brown said. “He played a principal role for several years here, including a couple of playoff runs.”
“Once he bought into our system, he was like a flower. He just blossomed,” former Bengals running backs coach Jim Anderson said. “He gave us an element we didn’t have. We had complementary guys, but Cedric gave us a missing element. He was a good man. He was one of my guys and it hurts. Life is too short.”
Benson played one season with Green Bay, where he started the first five games in 2012 before suffering a season-ending Lisfranc fracture in Indianapolis on Oct. 17. He rushed for 248 yards and a touchdown on 71 carries, and caught 14 passes for 97 yards in five games with the Packers before the foot injury.
He finished his NFL career with 6,017 yards and 46 touchdowns.
Benson returned to Austin after his playing career and set up a foundation, NUFCED, to aid underprivileged children and families. Those efforts included helping repair damage at the home of the first victim killed in a series of bombings in Austin early 2018.
Rafael Nadal Moves Into U.S. Open Semifinals, Now Two Wins From Major No. 19
Rafael Nadal perspired so much during his quarterfinal match with Diego Schwartzman, that it looked like he had jumped into a swimming pool with his tennis kit on.
On a hot and humid night in New York City, Nadal eventually wore Schwartzman down and prevailed, 6-4, 7-5, 6-2, to advance to the semifinals of the U.S. Open. Nadal now stands two wins from his 19th career Grand Slam title, which would place him one shy of Roger Federer’s all-time mark of 20.
“Today was a very heavy day, big humiidity out here and I am this kind of player that I sweat a little bit,” Nadal said on court. “So sometimes under these conditions, is tough.”
The betting favorite to win the title, Nadal will next meet 23-year-old Italian sensation Matteo Berrettini in Friday’s semifinals. In a match that lasted nearly four hours, Berrettini prevailed in an epic five-setter over Frenchman Gael Monfils earlier Wednesday.
No. 5 Daniil Medvedev will face Grigor Dimitrov in the other semifinal on Friday. The championship is Sunday and the winner will take home $3.85 million.
While Nadal has 18 Grand Slam titles, the other three remaining semifinalists have a combined zero.
“Who in this tour doesn’t know Rafa?” Berrettini said after his victory. “It’s going to be tough, for sure, against him.”
Berrettini is into his first Grand Slam semifinal and had to take a long ice bath after his win over Monfils. He, too, looked like he jumped into a pool with his clothes on for much of the match.
“I saw him play,” Nadal said. “He’s hitting huge. Big, big serves, big forehands, moving well and super confident. He’s a player that is making big steps forward every week so it’s going to be a big challenge but this match gives me some confidence, no?
“Now is the moment to keep going. Tomorrow is a day off, practice a little bit, I hope to be 100 percent for that semifinal because I will need.”
With defending champion Novak Djokovic and five-time champ Roger Federer both out of the draw, Nadal remains the lone member of the “Big Three” still in it. The trio has won the last 11 Grand Slam titles, and if Nadal wins on Sunday that will make it 12 straight.
The winner of 12 French Open titles and three U.S.Open crowns, Nadal could end up tying and surpassing Federer sometime in 2020 if he stays healthy.
Now he is two wins from No. 19 and it’s his tournament to lose.
“I just keep going point by point and here I am semifinals,” he said, “that’s super important for me. It means everything.”
Irish hurling coming to New York’s Citi Field for the first time
The fastest sport in the world, Irish hurling, comes to the home of the New York Mets this November for the 2019 New York Hurling Classic at Citi Field.
GAA fans get ready: the Irish sport of hurling is heading to Queens for the New York Hurling Classic with a four-team tournament on Saturday, November 16.
Building off the highly-successful U.S. events at Fenway Park in 2015, 2017 and 2018, a three-game tournament will be played with four counties competing for the Players Champions Cup, which was introduced at the 2017 event.
Four Irish senior hurling teams – newly-crowned All-Ireland champs Tipperary, runner-up Kilkenny, Wexford, and Limerick – will take part in a three-game tournament, with each of the games running 40 minutes in duration. Limerick will defend the Players Champions Cup, having won the 2018 Fenway Hurling Classic with a 38-30 victory over Cork.
Widely believed to be the world’s oldest field game, hurling combines agility, strength, and intensity, earning it the reputation as the “fastest game on grass” among its loyal and passionate followers.
Hurlers use a wooden stick called a hurley to hit a small ball called a sliotar (pronounced slitter) between the opponents’ goalposts either over the crossbar (1 point) or under the crossbar into a net guarded by a goalkeeper (3 points). For the New York Hurling Classic, the teams will play a modified version of hurling called “Super 11s” which reduces the pitch to 11 players and the only way to score is under the crossbar into the net.
The Gaelic Players Association (GPA), the Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA) and Aer Lingus partnered with Fenway Sports Management (FSM) and Metropolitan Hospitality to bring hurling to Citi Field for the first time in the ballpark’s 10-year history.
“We are thrilled to bring the ancient Irish sport of hurling to Citi Field this November,” said Heather Collamore, Vice President, Metropolitan Hospitality. “Hurling is one of the most exhilarating games in the world and we think fans are going to love the combination of speed, skill and scoring. We are excited to have the fast-paced action featuring some of the most accomplished teams in Ireland on the pitch at Citi Field.”
“The New York Hurling Classic will be a tremendous showcase for our sport and should excite every fan in attendance. Special events like this are important as we continue to grow the game and bring hurling to new audiences,” said GAA President John Horan.
Aer Lingus will be the official airline of the event, responsible for flying the teams from Ireland to New York City. Aer Lingus has been involved in the three previous hurling events at Fenway Park.
“Aer Lingus is synonymous with bringing the best of Ireland to America and most particularly New York, which is why this event is such a great fit for us,” said Aer Lingus Chief Corporate Affairs Officer Donal Moriarty. “We are proud and delighted to be able to bring Ireland’s greatest sport to the city that never sleeps.”
“We’re excited to partner with the GAA, GPA and Citi Field to bring hurling to New York,” said Mark Lev, president of Fenway Sports Management. “FSM is proud to play a role in growing hurling and showcasing the sport to new audiences in the U.S. The three events at Fenway Park drew amazing crowds, so whether you’re a fan of hurling or new to the sport, the New York Hurling Classic promises to be a can’t-miss event.”
In addition to the hurling tournament, the event will feature an Irish festival complete with music and dancing. For more information about the New York Hurling Classic and to purchase tickets, please visit www.mets.com/hurling.
Roma beat Real Madrid on Marcelo shootout miss
Real Madrid veteran Marcelo was the only player on either side to miss as Roma won Sunday evening’s Mabel Green Cup on penalties following a 2-2 draw.
A very entertaining first half saw Madrid twice go ahead through Marcelo and Casemiro, but Diego Perotti and Edin Dzeko equalised each time. After Blancos coach Zinedine Zidane scrapped a three-man defence experiment at the break, the second half was less eventful.
Gareth Bale’s return to the set-up was the biggest talking point, with the Welshman whistling an added time 20 yarder just wide, and scoring in the shoot-out as all nine opening spot kicks were converted. But Marcelo’s effort hit the crossbar and bounced out, meaning the Italian side took the victory at their Estadio Olimpico.
The game will have given Zidane plenty of food for thought, with Madrid’s three centre-backs regularly caught out through the opening stages, although the formation did allow left-back Marcelo to raid forward. And the Brazilian opened the scoring when picked out by Luka Modric’s excellent pass, cutting inside and finding the far corner with his right foot.
Following the match, though, Zidane would not be drawn out on any of the club’s plans surrounding a possible move for Neymar or the futures of Bale and James Rodriguez.
He said: “We are here with the team we have, the players we have. We just think about that. Next week our league begins, and our minds are just thinking about Saturday.
“I will repeat the same. James is our player. He has not been called up these last two games. Until [the end of the window] anything can happen. But a coach will always count on the players he has available. You [journalists] can keep asking but I won’t tell you the things you want.”
Roma continued to make chance with Edin Dzeko’s rasper bringing a smart save from Thibaut Courtois, and Perotti’s equaliser just after the half-hour mark was no surprise. It was beautifully made by Nicolo Zaniolo who streaked away from Casemiro down the left wing, and timed his pass perfectly for the Argentine to finish.
Zidane’s side came again though and a short corner was worked to Marcelo, whose cross was met with a towering header by an apparently offside Casemiro. Roma equalised again almost directly from the kickoff, with Cengiz Under’s pass finding Dzeko who held off Eder Militao to smash to the net.
Zidane was clearly unhappy and sent on attackers Luka Jovic and Vinicius Junior at the break, while also switching to a back four which made his team look more solid.
As the substitutes kept coming on both sides, Madrid looked the most likely to win inside the 90 minutes. But Roma keeper Pau Lopez denied both Jovic and Vinicius. Bale — who entered on the hour mark – also came close with two long-range efforts, opening up the possibility that the previously unwanted winger could still play a part in Madrid’s 2019-20 campaign.
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