Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis has apologized for comments he made on Dan Patrick's ESPN radio show about Cincinnati police possibly profiling his players.
"Yesterday, I gave a radio interview and made some comments that did not illustrate the high regard I have for the Cincinnati Police Department," Lewis said in a statement released by the team, which has been plagued by run-ins with the law. "I apologize that what I said did not reflect my true feelings."
Lewis' apology came a day after an interview on ESPN Radio's The Dan Patrick Show in which he noted that wide receiver Chris Henry was pulled over in March after not signaling a turn while driving in Cincinnati. Asked if he
thought such a traffic stop indicated there was profiling at work, Lewis said: "I think there's profiling, no question. We're [Cincinnati] a small place, our guys stand out, and they know that and you've got to do things the right way, but when you are arrested for, or you are pulled over for not putting on your turn signal, there's something wrong there. Many people make right turns without putting on their turn signals and that's unfortunate that we've had a guy that's pulled over for not putting on his turn signal."
Thursday, Lewis said he expressed his regret over the remarks and their aftermath in a conciliatory phone call to Cincinnati Police Chief Tom Streicher. During the private phone call, he said he made it clear that he didn't believe Cincinnati police were targeting his players.
"At no point did I say or mean to imply that these issues had anything to do with race," Lewis said. "Broadcast comments to the contrary are simply not true. When I spoke of our players being perhaps more subject to scrutiny than others, I was referring to their standing as public figures."
Lewis said the Bengals have had a good relationship with Cincinnati police and that he has "great respect" for Streicher and the entire department. He personally expressed his regret to Streicher.
"I have spoken with Tom today to express my regret. I do not believe the Cincinnati Police Department is specifically profiling our players," he added.
Streicher said that, after talking with Lewis, he accepted the comments were a case of something coming out differently than what was meant.
"I have known and respected Marvin since he came to Cincinnati, and in no way do I feel he would intentionally disparage our department," Streicher said in a statement.
Henry received traffic tickets on March 25 for driving with a suspended license, failing to use his turn signal and a seat belt violation. He was allowed to go into a license intervention program to settle the charges.
The third-year pro, who has been suspended by the league for the first eight games of 2007, is among nine Bengals players who were arrested over a nine-month span. Henry was arrested four times -- none of them in Cincinnati.
He was a focus of reports this week that initially alleged he had failed a drug test. His attorney and Kentucky state officials said Wednesday that Henry's drug screenings were clean. They are part of his probations in Orlando, for carrying a concealed weapon and in Kenton County, Ky., for allowing minors to drink in a hotel room he rented.
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.