Thursday, September 3, 2009
Henry's learned from suspensions
ESPN.com news services
Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Chris Henry might know where the NFL draws the line on appropriate conduct better than most -- he's been suspended for a total of 14 games in the last three seasons for violating league policy.
Henry, though, has no beef with NFL commissioner Roger Goodell enforcing the policy with an iron fist. If anything, Henry, who was eventually given a second chance with the Bengals last year after his fifth arrest, says he's learned his lesson through the league's discipline against him.
"Yeah, it helped me," Henry said, according to USA Today. "It helped me focus up, and it made me realize that if I continually wanted to play, I had to do right and be a professional."
Since the Bengals drafted him in 2005 out of West Virginia, he's faced charges of marijuana possession, carrying a concealed weapon, drunken driving, providing alcohol to minors and assault.
Yet the 26-year-old Henry has been Cincinnati's most productive receiver of the preseason and hasn't run into trouble off the field. He leads the team with 13 catches for 217 yards and three touchdowns heading into Thursday night's finale against Indianapolis.
Bengals quarterback Carson Palmer said he's convinced Henry has reflected on his ways and made changes.
"I'm very close with him. We spend a lot of time together," Palmer told USA Today. "I've seen it firsthand. He's a different person."
Of Goodell's approach to player discipline, Palmer said "his system works where you sit a guy out and you threaten to take the game away from him."
Bengals owner Mike Brown released Henry after his fifth arrest last April, then made a stunning about-face and brought him back over the objections of coach Marvin Lewis.
The assault charge against Henry was dropped when a trial culminated in a hung jury, yet Goodell suspended him for the first four games of the 2008 season. By then, the Bengals' season was lost -- they started 0-4, then fell to 0-8 and finished 4-11-1.
"Chris came here very unprepared for the NFL and all the challenges he was going to have," Lewis told USA Today, then added, "Chris had to learn some social skills.
"People here have worked very closely with Chris on being a professional and being what a young man should be. He has a ways to go in different areas. Now he's got to match on the field what he's done off the field."