There's an overwhelming suspicion the Bengals are going after talent coming with baggage; some say serious character issues. And you ask; why is this a problem? Simply put, fans hate players that distract from the game and the team. Fans hate players that take a golden opportunity of a lifetime and act ungrateful -- better than the game or the team.
Chris Henry has become the focus of a trend that many suspect is a degradation of character within the team. On November 2nd Henry was pulled over and cited for "speeding, failing to produce proof of insurance, an expired temporary tag and an expired driver's license". Henry was arrested on December 15th for two counts of marijuana possession. Henry pleaded guilty and avoided jail time. That wasn't it.
It was reported on January 30th that Chris Henry was arrested for Possession of a concealed firearm, Improper exhibition of a firearm and Aggravated assault with a firearm. Henry's court date is scheduled for May 30th. In his latest bout with the law, Henry was the subject of a sexual assault investigation. It was later reported the only thing that linked Henry was giving his credit card to a friend that was used at a hotel where the alleged assault took place. No charges have or are expected to take place.
Odell Thurman is a complicated case. The now NFL sophomore lost both his parents, lived in a house of 17, was financially responsible for five brothers and his own child. In 2004, Thurman was suspended at Georgia for the first three games of the season for a "violation of team rules".
Dan Pompei brings up the issue in a recent Sporting News article saying:
Teams such as the Bengals have taken chances on players others would have nothing to do with. A cartoon on profootballtalk.com portrayed the Bengals' stripes as jail stripes.
As a side note, Pro Football Talk is purely gossip reporting who has a special hate for the Bengals. They produce rumors based on "sources" without names and make more of a rumor than actually exists -- or is reported
Anyway, Pompei continues saying:
The Sporting News obtained the list of players who were taken off one team's draft board over the past five drafts. These teams drafted the highest number of those players:
Pompei also reports that that Thurman "was fined close to $90,000 over the course of the season for various violations of team rules, though Lewis refused to confirm that." More "sources".
There was a Football365.com article on Henry that's factually incorrect. The article references Henry's sexual assault case when one day after the reported investigation, Henry was cleared of any links. The article, which was produced one month after the update, failed to mention that. Instead, it goes into another paragraph saying Henry should be placed in a "penitentiary" if he's found guilty. Yet, no charges were ever filed.
There's no doubt the trend of questionable characters this team has added is presenting a negative image. Some of the recent players drafted by head coach Marvin Lewis have come with baggage. Some will say it's a win at any cost scenario, supplementing talent over character. But I think Marvin Lewis just wants to help troubled kids by giving them a second chance. At that point, it's up to the players to follow through on Lewis' wish.