Players' behavior 'foolishness'
BY MARK CURNUTTE | ENQUIRER STAFF WRITER
Marvin Lewis is not happy with the back-to-back legal problems encountered by two of his Bengals players, wide receiver Chris Henry and linebacker A.J. Nicholson, but said that their issues should not detract from what the team has accomplished on and off the field.
Addressing the media for the first time today since the weekend arrests of Henry for driving under the influence and Nicholson’s for burglary and grand theft, Lewis called their behavior “foolishness.”
“The thing I wanted to address was a little bit of the negative vibe and the foolishness we've had attributed to some very poor choices by a couple of our players, particularly with the association of people,’ Lewis said this afternoon, after the team completed practice.
“The biggest part of that is none of that is going to tarnish all the good that's been done both on the field and off the field,” Lewis said. “It does not affect our football team. Our guys have made very positive steps on the football team. And I think the entire body of work and what guys are doing is reflective of the quality (and not) some poor decisions, some poor associations, and some selfishness that way.
“We'll move on and they'll be dealt with as they are allowed to be dealt with if things come of this.”
Lewis said he was embarrassed by Henry and Nicholson’s legal problems.
“I told the people that, yes, you embarrassed us as an organization, myself (and) our coaches when these things occur,” Lewis said. “Right, wrong or indifferent, there are certain things you're asked not to be a part of or around. When it comes out it comes out, but once it comes out, your name is never cleared. The damage can be done in the larger portion for you and basically for us."
Lewis said neither player has made the team.
"They're not necessarily part of the team,” Lewis said of Henry and Nicholson. “Nobody's made our team at this time. What happens publicly is people think this is a distraction for our football team. At this point in the season it obviously is not because these guys do not have a vested right on our football team. They have not earned an opportunity to be on our football team.”
Henry’s arrest was his third in the past seven months. He faces a Friday court date in Clermont County.
"That bothers me when someone doesn't quite understand social laws, no question that bothers me,” Lewis said.
The league’s collective bargaining agreement with the NFL Players Association and the legal system govern both players right now. The team’s hands are essentially tied, for now.
"I don't need to comment on that. That's bigger than me,” Lewis said. “But at some point, you have to make a decision whether this guy is good enough for our football team, and decisions can be made that way, as well. Because if you can't function, then obviously you may not be good enough because I can't count on you."
Henry came out of West Virginia with a reputation for not getting along with teammates and not taking coaching well.
“We didn't draft a guy who had this issue coming in here; Chris Henry didn't have a problem with the law coming in here,” Lewis said. “If he had, he probably wouldn't be here.”
Nicholson turned himself into police in Tallahassee, Fla., on Saturday and charged with burglary, grand theft and vandalism in connection to the alleged theft of $1,700 electronic equipment from the apartment of a former Florida State teammate. Nicholson said this afternoon that he could not comment on the case and directed questions to his agent and lawyer.
It is believed that Nicholson could have been trying to retrieve electronics that belonged to him.