Tuesday, July 22, 2008 Updated: July 23, 10:51 AM ET
Coach says Bengals not interested in embattled receiver Henry
CINCINNATI -- Coach Marvin Lewis emphatically closed the door Tuesday on the possibility of receiver Chris Henry rejoining the
The Bengals released Henry in April after he was arrested for the fifth time, and the NFL suspended him indefinitely. His court case ended in a mistrial and prosecutors dropped the charges, prompting Henry to seek reinstatement and a chance to play in the NFL again.
Lewis said it won't be with the Bengals.
"I'm not interested," Lewis told reporters Tuesday, before the team's annual preseason luncheon. "I don't think it would be productive for our football team. You have to be a productive part to be an NFL player, and there's responsibilities to being an NFL player. It's a privilege, it's not a right. There's a lot that comes with being an NFL football player."
The 25-year-old Henry was suspended for the first eight games last season for repeatedly violating the league's conduct policies. He played in the last eight games, but had only 21 catches for 343 yards and a pair of touchdowns as the No. 3 receiver.
The Bengals weren't pleased with his performance on the field after he returned, but were prepared to give him a chance to keep his roster spot. They released him after he was accused of punching a University of Cincinnati student and breaking his car window with a beer bottle in April.
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The jury couldn't reach a verdict on an assault charge, resulting in a mistrial. Prosecutors decided to drop the case after a judge ruled against them on several motions just before the retrial was scheduled to start this month.
The Bengals also released linebacker Odell Thurman in the offseason, after he was reinstated from his two-year suspension by the NFL. It marked a change in policy for the Bengals, who had repeatedly given players extra chances after they got in trouble.
Owner Mike Brown said Tuesday he still believes in giving players chances to turn their lives around. Brown has a history of welcoming players back after they break the law.
"I guess the world is divided up between redeemers and non-redeemers," Brown said. "I happen to be a redeemer. I think people can be made better and right. If that's a fault, so be it. These guys misstepped, they made mistakes, they paid prices for it that have been verging on ruinous, but that doesn't mean I dislike them personally. I like them as people. I regret what's happened to them, and I regret that they're no longer here."
Commissioner Roger Goodell toughened the league's conduct policy last year, when the Bengals were a troubled team. They had 10 players arrested over a 14-month span, including Henry and Thurman. Brown said the team has raised its standards as well.
"That's all history now," Brown said. "We're going forward and trying to go forward with the kind of guys we can count on, the kind of guys who are not just good players but good citizens."