First ...

A party animal has advice for Bengals in trouble:

The next time, spring for a cab

October 01, 2006|By Alex Marvez | Alex Marvez,South Florida Sun-Sentinel

Brad Bedell has never landed a seven-figure contract like linebacker Odell Thurman or possessed the athleticism of wide receiver Chris Henry. But the Houston Texans reserve offensive lineman has something both Cincinnati Bengals players are sorely lacking - common sense.

Upon hearing that Thurman was arrested early last Monday morning on a drunken driving charge - with Henry throwing up out the car window during the process, according to witnesses - Bedell was the first person who popped into my head.

After the journeyman signed with the Miami Dolphins midway through the 2003 season, it didn't take Bedell long to discover the joys of South Beach, especially since he is buddies with Motley Crue lead singer Vince Neil. But what stood out to me was Bedell's revelation that he never drove the 25 miles or so from his Broward County home to South Beach if he was going to drink. Bedell said he spent $75 each way on a taxi ride from Davie, Fla., rather than risk arrest by driving impaired.

Bedell said he didn't need to learn a lesson the hard way. Bedell's older brother was once charged with DUI and two friends of his cousin died in an alcohol-related accident.

"You make a decision when you're behind the wheel," Bedell said last week in a telephone interview. "My dad [Derek] taught me you not only put your own life at risk but others'. A high percentage of drunk drivers live [through an accident], but they've got to live with themselves if they kill someone else. I don't know if I could live like that."

Fortunately, Cincinnati police stopped Thurman - whose reported blood-alcohol level of .17 was slightly more than twice the legal limit - before he could cause harm to others. But the arrest has caused irreparable damage to the once-promising NFL career of the 2005 second-round draft pick.

He was just six days away from returning from a four-game suspension under the substance abuse policy, and the NFL has barred Thurman from playing the rest of the season.

Equally pathetic is how Thurman and Henry - who was found guilty on two of four arrest charges within the past 11 months - ignored the message personally delivered just days earlier by the NFL's new commissioner. While in Cincinnati, Roger Goodell had a team meeting with the Bengals, who saw four other players get arrested earlier this year.

"I was very direct about their responsibility in their community, what they represent and how important they are in setting a positive tone," Goodell said. "I think they understood."

Thurman, Henry and Bengals wide receiver Reggie McNeal obviously didn't. Although the vehicle pulled over Monday morning was registered to McNeal, Thurman told police he was driving because the others with him had more to drink.

Bedell said he doesn't know any of the players involved personally. But it saddens him that a trio whose NFL contracts total millions of dollars didn't spring for a cab.

"We're at a lucky point in our lives where we get to play sports and get paid handsomely for it," Bedell said. "For me, a $75 cab ride is much better than risking a $10,000 DUI. Not only are you getting in trouble, but it reflects upon your organization and you embarrass your name."

Alex Marvez writes for the South Florida Sun-Sentinel.

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