Meet Arrelious Benn. On March 15, 2013, Benn was traded to the Philadelphia Eagles, along with a 7th-round pick, for a 2013 6th-round pick and a 2014 conditional pick. On March 21, 2013, Arrelious Benn signed a one-year contract extension through 2014. On August 6, he tore his ACL and will miss the 2013 season. On August 6th, Arrelious Benn fell to his second ACL. On August 6th, Arrelious’ season ended.
But not his story….
Arrelious Benn was born on September 8, 1998 in Washington DC. He arrived in the early part of the NFL season, when Norv Turner was trying to turn around the Redskins program on their way to a 6-10 season. He was a natural athlete, and was especially gifted on the football field.
He loved football. His first job was serving pizzas with his Aunt for two seasons with his Aunt. And when it came time for him to play, he did, and he did well. He was a five-star recruit coming out of Dunbar High School in Washington, D.C. Benn played wide receiver, running back, safety, and linebacker in high school, and was named a First Team High School All American his senior season. In his senior year Benn caught 56 passes for 1,039 yards and nine touchdowns, the first Dunbar player to ever crack the 1,000 yard mark. Following his high school career, he was the 2,331st ranked player out of high school. Benn was recruited by Universities of Maryland, Notre Dame, Miami, and Florida State, but decided on the University of Illinois.
During his freshman season, Benn caught 43 passes for 521 yards, both team highs and school freshman records, and scored two touchdowns. Benn also added 158 yards on 32 carries, along with returning 10 kickoffs for 280 yards, including a 90 yard return for touchdown. He was named the 2007 Big Ten Freshman of the Year. Throughout his college career, Benn was a big physical receiver, frequently using his size and strength to get the ball. He finished with over 2,200 receiving yards , as well as nearly 1000 yards in kickoff returns.
In fact, his career seemed to be on his way. Benn was drafted in the second round, pick 39 overall, by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Unfortunately, that first year was marked with tragedy. Benn injured his left knee ACL late in that 2010 season. The following year, Benn was back out there, starting in 14 games but generating a mere 441 receiving yards. In 2012, disaster struck again, this time Arrelious suffered a shoulder injury. He would not play again for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
In the off-season, things happened to put Arrelious back in the mix for serious playing time. The first was the change of head coaches by the Philadelphia Eagles, who signed Chip Kelly from the University of Oregon. Chip’s arrival was marked with a change in personnel philosophy. In short, big guys beat up little guys. And in that offseason, the eagles traded with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to acquire their big receiver.
Benn had been adamant that he needed to stay healthy this year. Despite hyper-extending his knee early in camp, he spoke optimistically of getting on the field and working. And he stayed sharp mentally. “I was pleasantly surprised,” Kelly said. “You expect some rust, to be honest with you. I thought he was really good from a mental standpoint.”
On Tuesday, August 6th, he was stopped by injury again.
In these past several years of watching the eagles suffer losses, retool in the off-season, and come out even less effective than the year before, something in me has changed. I see more of the human and less of the player now.
Did you know that Arrelious Benn recently started a coat drive in his home town of Washington DC? “I was raised in a single parent household with four brothers,” he explained, “so I can relate to the struggles we all must go through. It’s important that we all must help out i some way.”
Did you know that he lost his grandmother to cancer, and that his mother is a cancer survivor? He has rallied family and friends to a noble cause: the Susan G. Komen Global Race for the Cure. The event, which takes place mother’s day weekend in Washington DC, is an “annual walk run that raises funds for the fight against breast cancer.” The 2013 walk marks the first year that Arrelious Benn and his supporters have taken part in the event.
The more I learn about Arrelious Benn, the more I know about three things:
I want him healthy – This is a young man who has fought and beaten the odds. He doesn’t back down. He does what is needed to compete and win. I want this streak of injuries to stop for this man long enough for him to realize his professional potential.
I want him in the NFL – This man has not had an easy time of it. As many athletes, he’s had to pick himself up when others would remain motionless. He’s facing not only a recovery, but the reputation that he is often injured. Perhaps in the face of these accidents, he might not get the chance to prove he is worthy of an NFL roster spot. I hope that he does.
I want him playing for the Eagles – This young man does not have quitter anywhere in his résumé. Nowhere. Life has knocked him down and he gets back up and keeps coming. Does anyone else hear the rocky theme when reading his career?
Arrelious Benn will soon be in a hospital bed. He will face surgery on his left knee, and an uncertain future. But I hope with everything that is in me as an NFL fan that he gets a chance to return to the field and play football.
I love a good underdog. Arrelious, get better and live your dream. I am rooting for you.
Written by: @milroyigglesfan