NFL suspends troubled Bengals WR Henry two games
CINCINNATI -- Second-year wide receiver Chris Henry of the Cincinnati Bengals was suspended two games by NFL commissioner Roger Goodell on Friday for violations of the league's personal conduct policy and substance abuse policy.
For weeks, the Bengals have anticipated and prepared for the suspension. Henry, who sat out last Sunday's loss to New England as a disciplinary action imposed by Cincinnati coach Marvin Lewis, could still face subsequent league sanctions because of other charges pending against him.
Henry will forfeit $41,176 of his scheduled base salary of $350,000 for 2006. He was also fined an additional $20,000, bringing his total penalty of $61,176, or approximately 17.5 percent of his base salary for this season.
Under league policy, Henry will be ineligible for the Bengals games on Oct. 15 at Tampa Bay and on Oct. 22 against Carolina. He will not be able to participate in team practices, but is permitted to attend meetings and to work out individually at the team facilities.
Provided he follows the terms of his suspension, Henry, who on Friday was placed on the reserve/suspended list, will be eligible to return to the active roster on Oct. 23. The next contest in which he can play is the Oct. 29 home game against the Atlanta Falcons.
The Bengals are in their bye week. Citing the league's confidentiality guidelines, team officials declined comment on Henry's suspension.
Clearly, however, losing Henry for multiple games was a scenario for which most Cincinnati officials and coaches were prepared. Lewis deactivated Henry last week after the wide receiver was a passenger in a car driven by Odell Thurman when the Bengals' middle linebacker was recently arrested on DUI charges. It was the latest in a string of off-field incidents involving Henry, and team officials seemed to understand that NFL sanctions were imminent.
Henry recently met with Goodell, who assured him a resolution of his status would be fair and measured. Henry told associates he expected to be suspended at some point during the season.
Henry's spot as the No. 3 wide receiver is expected to go to either Antonio Chatman or Kelley Washington. The Cincinnati offense utilizes a considerable quota of spread formations. Neither Chatman or Washington is as explosive as Henry, who has 11 catches for 177 yards and two touchdowns in two games this season.
In 2005, Henry played in 14 games with 12 starts, and he posted 31 receptions for 422 yards and scored six times. For all his off-field indiscretions, Henry is regarded as one of the NFL's top No. 3 wide receivers.
Henry is the second Cincinnati player to be suspended this year. Thurman was initially levied a four-game suspension, but that was extended two weeks ago to a full season following the DUI incident. Cincinnati has six players who were involved in legal entanglements of varying degrees since the end of last season.
After a productive rookie year, Henry has been unable to avoid off-field problems.
Early in the offseason, Henry pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor marijuana possession charge. On June 3, Henry was arrested and charged with speeding and operating a vehicle under the influence (OVI), and registered a blood alcohol reading of .092 in a breathalyzer test. The legal limit in Ohio is .08. The speeding charge is a minor misdemeanor and the OVI charge is a first-degree misdemeanor.
Henry at one point faced a felony gun charge in Florida stemming from a Jan. 29 incident in which he allegedly possessed a firearm outside an Orlando nightclub. Henry was charged with possession of a concealed firearm in that incident, a third-degree felony in Florida, but pleaded guilty to a lesser charge.
In June, he was arrested and charged with three counts of unlawful transaction with a minor, after he allegedly bought and consumed alcohol with three underage women. Henry was freed on $2,500 bond and ordered by a Kenton (Ken.) County judge to avoid alcohol and to have no contact with minors.
Officials in Florida and Kenton County are still seeking information on Henry's involvement in the incident in which Thurman was charged with DUI. There is possibility he violated probation conditions in Florida and that his bond could be revoked by Kenton County officials.
Each of the offseason incidents was enough to subject Henry to NFL scrutiny under terms of the personal conduct policy. The marijuana charge and the charge for unlawful transaction with a minor fell under the umbrella of the substance abuse policy.
Len Pasquarelli is a senior NFL writer for ESPN.com
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