CINCINNATI (AP) - With their two Pro Bowl receivers hurt, the
Cincinnati Bengals brought back troubled receiver Chris Henry on
Tuesday, a move that their coach had emphatically ruled out only a
month earlier as inappropriate.
The signing helps the team but raises questions about its
commitment to holding players accountable for their actions. Henry
must serve a four-game suspension from the NFL - his third such
punishment - before he can fully rejoin the team.
The move was stunning in light of Lewis' statement shortly
before training camp opened that the team had permanently parted
ways with the receiver, who has been arrested five times since he
joined the Bengals. Henry had indicated he was interested in
"I'm not interested," Lewis said at the team's annual
preseason luncheon on July 22. "I don't think it would be
productive for our football team. You have to be a productive part
to be an NFL player, and there's responsibilities to being an NFL
player. It's a privilege, it's not a right. There's a lot that
comes with being an NFL football player."
The Bengals evidently feel differently after Pro Bowl receiver
Chad Johnson sprained his left shoulder during a 27-10 preseason
loss to Detroit on Sunday night, leaving his status uncertain. Pro
Bowl receiver T.J. Houshmandzadeh has missed both preseason games
with a hamstring injury as well.
The Bengals released Henry after he was accused of punching a
college student and breaking his car window with a beer bottle in
March. Bengals president Mike Brown also cut ties with Henry,
saying he could no longer be with the team.
"His conduct can no longer be tolerated," Brown said at the
time. "The Bengals tried for an extended period of time to support
Chris and his potentially bright career. We had hoped to guide him
toward an appropriate standard of personal responsibility that this
community would support and that would allow him to play in the
NFL. ... But those efforts end today, as we move on with what is
best for our team."
The Bengals had no immediate comment on their decision to
re-sign Henry, who was expected to practice with the team on
Henry was suspended by the league for two games in 2006 and for
the first eight games of last season for repeatedly violating its
conduct policies. He received the this season's suspension for the
latest court case, which ended in a mistrial with the charges later
Henry took a physical Tuesday morning in Cincinnati and agreed
to the contract.
"I'm just glad they're willing to let the past be the past and
give him a chance," agent Marvin Frazier said. "I just hope that
the Cincinnati fans will give him the same type of chance."
The Bengals had 10 players arrested over a 14-month span, one of
the factors that prompted commissioner Roger Goodell to toughen the
league's conduct policy. The Bengals then toughened their own
stance, getting rid of troubled linebacker Odell Thurman and Henry
in the offseason.