On Chris Henry

O, BY THE WAY

Quick kickoff

Bengals drop troubled wide receiver

April 04, 2008|By BILL ORDINE

For former Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Chris Henry, judgment came swiftly after he was charged with assault and criminal damaging after allegedly throwing a bottle and smashing the window of a car belonging to an 18-year-old college student and punching out the kid Monday night.

Faster than you can say arraignment, the Bengals cut the tall, fast receiver whose arrest record would indicate that he has posed for more mug shots than team photos.

As Popeye the Sailor Man would say, "Enough is enough and enough is too much!"

Bengals president Mike Brown put it this way in a story on the team Web site: "Chris Henry has forfeited his opportunity to pursue a career with the Bengals. His conduct can no longer be tolerated."

The Bengals have been a league joke for the past few years because so many players have had brushes with the law. Last year, quarterback Carson Palmer, also quoted on the Bengals' Web site, said, "We can't get through a month without getting a guy arrested. It happens on another team and they're shocked and surprised to hear about it. With us, you hear about it and it doesn't surprise you and you just shake your head and say, `Another one.'"

The organization has been blasted both for signing players who were red-flagged (Henry being one) and for implicit permissiveness.

Finally, the quick release of Henry - it was his fifth arrest since 2005 -- shows that even the Bengals' roster is no longer a refuge for badly behaving players.

In an abbreviated three-year NFL career, Henry has caught 88 passes for 1,370 yards and, more impressively, 17 touchdowns. But don't think that a wide receiver-hungry team will be able to take a gamble on him. NFL commissioner Roger Goodell suspended Henry for the first half of last season with a one-last-chance ultimatum.

If Henry is convicted of the current assault, there's no telling how long the next banishment will be. As common sense would dictate and others have suggested, his next stop is probably Canada or the Arena Football League.

All this happens to the Bengals concurrent with Pro Bowl wide receiver Chad Johnson acting even more squirrelly than usual. To be sure, Johnson does not get in off-field difficulties (unless you count raging after coaches in the locker room during playoff games). But Johnson is sick of the Bengals' losing ways; he has been critical of the organization; he has argued with Palmer, and he has made it clear he doesn't want to be there. So coach Marvin Lewis has said that maybe the team needs to cross off the man with the Golden Grill and move on.

Even given that consternation and concern, the Bengals didn't hesitate a moment in jettisoning Henry. It was reminiscent of equally swift action the Steelers took in releasing wide receiver Cedrick Wilson last month when he was charged with assaulting a former girlfriend in a restaurant.

Perhaps this type of decisive action at the team level, in conjunction with Goodell's crackdown on out-of-control players, will eventually help the league shed its National Felon League label.

bill.ordine@baltsun.com

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