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Thursday, March 22, 2007
Lewis would welcome NFL discipline changes

Associated Press

CINCINNATI -- Cincinnati Bengals coach Marvin Lewis, who had nine players arrested in less than a year, would welcome tougher NFL discipline.

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell could announce new initiatives Tuesday at his first full league meeting that would allow him to impose harsher and quicker discipline for players who get into trouble off the field.

"I think that's the thing that coaches and people are looking [for] from the league," Lewis told reporters Thursday. "I think the one thing that everybody knows is that when you take away the stage -- which we've done here when we've had a guy have a problem and those indiscretions occur on my time -- then they've lost the chance to play on that particular Sunday."

Last season, Lewis benched wide receiver Chris Henry and cornerback Deltha O'Neal one game each after alcohol-related cases.

"I think that is something we would like coming even a little stronger coming from the league," Lewis said. "I think the biggest thing everybody is looking for is that on the way in, you let guys know this is the way it's going to be. And if you cross this line, this is what's going to happen."

Lewis said players should know they face tough punishment from the league for bad behavior.

The new initiatives would allow Goodell, who has been meeting with players, owners and team officials, to impose harsher discipline earlier than in the past, when the NFL has waited for legal steps to be finished before imposing fines and/or suspensions.

The possible policy change stems from Tennessee's Adam "Pacman" Jones' 10 encounters with the police; the four-month jail sentence imposed this week on Chicago's Tank Johnson on weapons charges; other run-ins with the law by NFL players; and the Bengals' arrests.

Henry has been arrested four times since December 2005. After his first two cases were settled, the NFL suspended him for two games for violating its conduct and substance abuse policies.

He settled the final case in January, pleading guilty to letting minors drink in a hotel room he rented. He could be suspended again by the league for that conviction.

The NFL also suspended linebacker Odell Thurman for last season. He received a four-game suspension for skipping a drug test. The punishment was extended to a full season after he was accused of drunken driving.

Thurman is eligible to apply for reinstatement. He pleaded no contest last month to drunken driving and received a 90-day jail sentence that was put on hold while he gets treatment for alcohol abuse. The sentence could be shortened at a June 5 hearing.