Lewis expects Thurman to be suspended for season

Updated: September 26, 2006, 1:36 AM ET
Associated Press

CINCINNATI -- Coach Marvin Lewis expects middle linebacker Odell Thurman to be suspended for the rest of the season following his arrest early Monday on a drunken driving charge, making him the sixth Cincinnati Bengal arrested this year.

Clayton's take
Although Odell Thurman's suspension is scheduled to end following Sunday's game against the Patriots, Marvin Lewis said he has no plans to talk to Thurman. "We have put this football team together without Odell Thurman," said Lewis, adding Thurman hasn't been in his plans since March. He called Thurman's latest off-field incident disappointing.

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Thurman, already serving a four-game suspension for violating the NFL's substance abuse policy, could get an additional one-year suspension from the league.

The arrest came less than a week after commissioner Roger Goodell visited Cincinnati and reminded players of their responsibility to stay out of trouble and represent the league honorably. It also drew Lewis' most stinging comments since receiver Chris Henry was arrested last December, starting the streak of court appearances by Bengals players.

Henry and receiver Reggie McNeal were passengers in the sport utility vehicle Thurman was driving Monday, but were not charged. Police said Thurman registered 0.18 percent on a blood alcohol test, more than twice the legal limit of 0.08.

"I am not pleased," Lewis said. "It's not right, it's not what we stand for, it's not what the National Football League should represent."

Odell Thurman
Thurman

Thurman, a second-round draft pick from Georgia last year, started all but one game during the Bengals' first winning season and first playoff appearance since 1990. The league suspended him in the offseason for missing a drug test.

He was arrested at 3 a.m. Monday, a few hours after the team returned from a 28-20 victory in Pittsburgh. Henry had five catches for 69 yards and a pair of touchdowns in that game.

Police Capt. Dan Gerard said an officer working near a DUI checkpoint on the city's east side saw Thurman drive the sport utility vehicle across a double yellow line and stopped him. Although police declined to identify the two Bengals who were passengers, McNeal told The Associated Press he and Henry also were in the vehicle.

McNeal declined to go into detail about what happened or why Thurman was driving.

"Just a misunderstanding," McNeal said, as he left Paul Brown Stadium on Monday afternoon.

Thurman was given the breath test, then released to a sober companion who drove him home, Gerard said. He is scheduled for a court appearance on Oct. 2, the day his four-game suspension ends.

If convicted, Thurman could get a tougher sentence because of the high blood-alcohol level, Sgt. Jon Payer said. The average sentence for a first-time offender in Ohio is three days in jail or an alcohol-education program and a $500 fine, he said.

Lewis expects Thurman to get an additional punishment from the league. Another violation of its substance abuse policy brings a minimum one-year suspension in addition to the one he is already serving.

"He just obviously doesn't understand the privilege and the right to play in the National Football League," Lewis said. "This will probably be dealt with very severely."

Lewis has repeatedly drafted players who were in trouble with the law or their coaches during their college careers, and has steadfastly defended them following their arrests once they joined the Bengals. He came down harshly on Thurman, but sidestepped questions about the teammates that were with him.

"It's socially and morally not right to be -- if by the test that is true -- that you are intoxicated behind the wheel," Lewis said. "It's not correct. It's not right for our society, and I think that's a bad message. These guys all have the ability to do the right thing and call a cab or do whatever it takes."

Henry has been arrested four times and convicted twice, avoiding jail time so far. He pleaded guilty to marijuana possession in northern Kentucky, and this month pleaded guilty to a weapon charge in Orlando, Fla.


Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press