Bengals 2007 Arrests Picking Up Right Where 2006 Left Off

In 2006, the Cincinnati Bengals drew at least as much attention for their legal problems as they did for their game, and it appears that the new year didn’t bring dramatic changes to the team. On January 22, Bengals cornerback Johnathan Joseph was arrested in Kentucky for possession of marijuana.

Joseph is the ninth member of the team to be arrested in the past 13 months, but the arrests themselves are mounting even more quickly, with receiver Chris Henry having been arrested four times for alleged crimes ranging from unlawful transactions with a minor to felony possession of a firearm and possession of marijuana. Both Henry and linebacker Odell Thurman have been suspended by the league.

Joseph played the final seven games of the season in place of Deltha O’Neal, who was injured and then was benched for one game following his own December arrest for driving under the influence. With other players arrested for boating under the influence, burglary, spousal abuse, and resisting arrest, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell reportedly contacted Bengals President Mike Brown to express his concern.

Two players even managed to be charged with resisting arrest despite a lack of other charges. Reggie McNeal was initially charged with resisting arrest when he allegedly scuffled with police after being refused admission to a nightclub, while Matthias Askew was charged with resisting arrest and obstructing official business after parking violation escalated to the point that officers reportedly used a taser to subdue him. McNeal eventually faced additional charges when it was discovered that he was in possession of a controlled substance at the time of his arrest.

Coach Marvin Lewis initially defended his team, but after Goodell’s attention turned toward the Bengals and veteran players reportedly encouraged Lewis to get tougher with the team, he promised a harder line approach. Unfortunately, less than a month later, and with charges still pending against some of last year’s arrestees, the cycle seems to be starting up again.

Some players, including Chris Henry, may still be facing additional sanctions from the league as pending cases are resolved.