Saints Alumni Media Call: LeCharles Bentley talks his O-Line Academy, Teammates, and MRSA
Kyle T. Mosley
Before the recent recognizable names of New Orleans Saints players at the center position like Max Unger, or Eric McCoy, De Le Puenta, or Jonathan Goodwin existed, there was LeCharles Bentley. Bentley held down the Saints offensive line for QB Aaron Brooks from 2002 to 2005. The 2020 second-round choice for the Saints, Bentley, was a fixture at center during the Haslett years. He left following the turbulent 2005 season after Hurricane Katrina ravaged New Orleans and the Gulf Coast region. He was a solid performer for the team and a good teammate. In his video conference call with Saints media on Friday, July 10, 2020, he reminisced about his past teammates like RB Deuce McAllister, WR Joe Horn, and WB Jake Delhomme. Yes, Jake Delhomme. In the call, Bentley wondered if the Saints would have had a chance at a Super Bowl if Delhomme was quarterbacking the team.
After that season, New Orleans allowed Bentley to test the free-agency waters. ESPN rated Bentley as the highest-graded offensive lineman on the market in the 2006 NFL offseason. He signed with his hometown Cleveland Browns for a six-year, $36M deal with $12.5M in guarantees. The NFL future was bright for the former Ohio State Buckeye.
Unfortunately, LeCharles Bentley never played a down for the Browns after he injured his knee on the first play from scrimmage of Cleveland's training camp. His surgery and rehabilitation from the injury had major setbacks. Bentley sued the Browns and physicians when he contracted the severe staph infection, MRSA. In his lawsuit against Cleveland, his legal team chronicled the possibility of having an amputation as a result of MRSA. He later settled the suit and retired from the NFL. The affects of the injury and the MRSA were difficult to rebound from for Bentley.
I asked Bentley about his personal dealings with MRSA:
You had a bout with MRSA, and I know that was difficult for you. How do you teach the young offensive linemen under you, how today to be safe?
"Well, when you say safe, can you expound a little bit on on safety? Do you mean from a hygiene standpoint?" I replied, "Yes."
Well, my situation is a little bit different, uh, in terms of my infection, it was more surgically based. But, one thing that we are very mindful of with our players is teaching them how nutrition plays a significant role in your overall immune health. In fact, we just had what we call a player empowerment series. They're like little Ted talks for players.
We bring in an expert in the respective field and have them give some information and context on any particular situation is going to be beneficial to the player today and all for life after football. So, the one that we had just recently on Wednesday, we had a doctor from Thorne, he's the lead medical expert from Thorne, one of the major supplement companies here in the country, came in and talked to the guys about managing their immune system in the era of COVID.
But with that being said, the one key element of that is number one, understanding how the immune system functions. And, then number two, understanding how you can manipulate the new system through nutrition, through hygiene and through proper sleep patterns and behaviors.
So, being able to provide that type of information to players is something that we pride ourselves on not specifically in regards to, uh, MRSA, you know, there's not a whole lot that you can do. Because it's one of those things that, when someone's having a surgery, you just hope that you put them in the best position where at that particular hospital, that particular surgeon doesn’t have a track record of doing things haphazardly. But, in terms of just everyday life, just understanding how your immune system works and that your immunity is going to be a significant component to who you are as a human being. And then obviously, your performance levels as an athlete.”
LeCharles Bentley - New Orleans Saints Video Conference Call - July 10, 2020
In his present life, LeCharles Bentley seems happy and motivated to continue working with young offensive linemen from Pop Warner, those in high school and the college ranks, to the pros and players facing retirement. He moved his L. Bentley O-Line Academy to Scottsdale, Arizona. He said, in Arizona, he has more access to resources. The primary purpose behind his academy is to teach, mentor, and prepare players for the trials and tribulations of playing football as an offensive lineman. LeCharles Bentley is serving those players and dispensing great wisdom along the way.