Wednesday, September 5, 2007
Updated: September 6, 6:34 PM ET
Bodden pleads not guilty to two misdemeanors
BEREA, Ohio -- Cleveland Browns starting cornerback
Leigh Bodden is looking forward to telling his side of the story after
The NFL will listen carefully.
Bodden faces possible discipline from the league under
commissioner Roger Goodell's crackdown on player misconduct after
being charged with aggravated disorderly conduct and resisting
arrest as he tried to pick up his girlfriend and their two children
at Cleveland's major airport.
The 25-year-old Bodden, regarded as one of the Browns' quieter
and more easygoing players, pleaded not guilty on Thursday to
misdemeanor charges less than 24 hours after police accused him of
driving in reverse down a one-way street and becoming verbally
Bodden will play in Cleveland's season opener on Sunday against
the Pittsburgh Steelers. Before Thursday's practice, he apologized
to his coaches and teammates before meeting with reporters.
"You all know there are two sides to every story," he said.
"Right now I can't comment on my side. My attorney will handle
that. It's unfortunate that this is a distraction."
Browns coach Romeo Crennel downplayed Bodden's arrest, referring
to it as "a little run in with the law" and a "minor traffic
incident." Crennel also said he wasn't bothered by the nature of
"I could look at a guy cross-eyed and he could charge me with
something for looking at him wrong. No fisticuffs occurred, or
anything, to my knowledge. I am going to wait until I find out all
the facts before I make any kind of judgment," Crennel said.
"You don't anticipate something like that happening from him,
so when something like that occurs with an easygoing guy, there may
be more to it than just the easygoing guy going off the deep end."
According to police, Bodden was spotted driving his sports
utility vehicle in reverse inside a passenger-arrivals area. He was
approached by an officer, who informed Bodden to pull over, police
Lt. Thomas Stacho said.
After refusing, Bodden eventually parked his SUV illegally. He
got out and walked toward an airport entrance and became verbally
abusive with the officer, who called for police backup, Stacho
Responding officers instructed Bodden to place his hands on a
wall, which he did, but the situation became tense when the player
began to resist officers trying to place handcuffs on him, Stacho
Bodden was taken to a city jail and detained for five hours
before being released early Thursday on a $1,000 bond. He also
faces traffic charges of failing to produce a driver's license and
driving the wrong way on a one-way street.
Bodden is scheduled to appear in court for a pretrial conference
on Sept. 25, his lawyer, Matt Selby said. The charges carry a
sentence of up to six months in jail.
Bodden potentially faces a fine or suspension from the league,
which instituted a tougher player-conduct policy in the wake of
several highly publicized arrests and cases, highlighted by Atlanta
quarterback Michael Vick's involvement in a dogfighting ring.
Bodden said he's not concerned about any punishment from the
"The legal system will handle it," he said. "The league will
handle it, and there's nothing I can do about it but play football,
and that's what I'm going to do."
The NFL's conduct policy states that players can face
disciplinary measures for offenses such as those Bodden is charged
with. It says, "persons who fail to live up to this standard of
conduct are guilty of conduct detrimental and subject to
discipline, even where the conduct itself does not result in
conviction of a crime."
The policy also says that unless the pending case involves
significant bodily harm, "a first offense will generally not
involve discipline until there has been a disposition of the
"It will be reviewed under the personal conduct policy,"
league spokesman Greg Aiello said. "There won't be any
disciplinary action prior to this weekend."
Bodden's arrest surprised some of his teammates, who couldn't
imagine him getting into trouble.
"I never envisioned him being belligerent to anyone,"
linebacker Andra Davis said. "I never even saw the guy get mad.
The stuff I heard last night on TV, I wasn't feeding into that. Bod
is a great guy, one of the stand-up guys around here. Everybody
knows how humble he is. I don't believe in any of that stuff that
Bodden's arrest came on the same day that the Browns named five
team captains, another offshoot of Goodell's attempt to clean up
player behavior. While discussing the addition of captains on
Wednesday, Hall of Famer Jim Brown, an executive adviser to owner
Randy Lerner, predicted the Browns would have no issues in 2007.
"There will probably be fewer incidents with our players than
any team in the league, based upon what we put upon them from the
standpoint of their responsibility to the team and the city,"