When the Bengals sought out a replacement at running back after they let Cedric Benson walk in free agency last year, they knew what they wanted. Not only did they want someone a few years younger that could run between the tackles as Benson did, but they looked for a player with a winning background and a solid attitude. Enter BenJarvus Green-Ellis.
"The Law Firm" is just another quality guy in a Cincinnati locker room that is full of such football players. He tasted success early in his career with the New England Patriots before heading to Cincinnati and enjoying a playoff appearance there last season. While with the Patriots, Green-Ellis played with a lot of interesting characters, which included Aaron Hernandez. As you know by now, the former Patriots tight end was charged with the murder of Odin Lloyd and has been imprisoned without bail.
As with any other current and former Patriot player, Green-Ellis was asked for his thoughts on Hernandez's situation. Ever the consummate pro, Green-Ellis spoke about his shock when he heard the news (via Geoff Hobson of Bengals.com):
"I think it was shocking to everyone. Anytime you know anybody, like if one of you guys were to do something, or be committed or acquitted or accused of something like that of course it’s going to be shocking," he said. "But right now we just have to send out our prayers to both families and let the good Lord take care of that situation.
"My heart goes out to both families and hopefully everything turns out the way everyone is OK with, but it’s a trying situation and it’s really sad the way it happened. It’s been a tough offseason for the league in general but we have to move past those things and try to get down to playing football."
The last sentence says a lot about the general attitude of this Bengals football team. There are always going to be distractions and the Hernandez case is a horrible and tragic example of such. Though he rightfully sent out his best wishes and prayers to those involved, Green-Ellis and the Bengals are focused on their jobs of playing good football this year.
It's all part of the culture shift that owner Mike Brown spoke about a few days ago at the kickoff luncheon. Less Hernandez's and more Green-Ellis's.