Manning Jr. arrested on night he signed offer sheet

LOS ANGELES -- NFL defensive back Ricky Manning Jr. was arrested on suspicion of assault Sunday after a fight at a restaurant near the UCLA campus.

Manning, a 25-year-old restricted free agent who signed a five-year, $21 million offer sheet with the Chicago Bears on Friday after three seasons with Carolina, was arrested at about 3 a.m. after he allegedly hit a man in the face along with four or five companions at a Denny's restaurant in the Westwood section of Los Angeles, said officer Mike Lopez, a spokesman for the Los Angeles Police Department.

"Unfortunately, I can't talk about any legal business," Manning said during a conference call after the Panthers declined to match the Bears' offer sheet. "I was advised by my
agent that I can't talk about any legal business or what happened Sunday morning. But when things are sorted out, I'll be more than happy to tell my side of the story so you can find out what happened."

According to a report in the Chicago Sun-Times, Los Angeles Police Department detective Robert Lewis said a group of people -- including Manning -- attacked a man in a Denny's after teasing him for working on a laptop computer.

"The group began by making comments that the victim looked like a geek or a nerd," Lewis said, according to the Sun-Times.

The newspaper quoted Lewis saying the victim complained to a Denny's manager. He was then punched in the face, then punched and kicked by multiple attackers until losing consciousness.

Manning, a former UCLA star, and his companions left the restaurant in an SUV and were pulled over by police soon after when the vehicle was spotted by a helicopter, Lopez said.

Police said Manning was arrested for assault with a deadly weapon despite not being armed because he was aided by companions, and because great bodily force was used.

Manning was released after posting $30,000 bail.

"I was pretty down this morning because of the situation," Manning said."But when I found out I was a Chicago Bear, it kind of brought a little light to the day. ... I can't let something like this let me have a bad start to my football career in Chicago."

Manning spent his first three seasons with the Panthers, who beat the Bears in the playoffs. But he lost his starting job when Carolina signed Ken Lucas before the 2005 season and was used as a nickel back.

Manning will likely fill that role in Chicago, replacing the retired Jerry Azumah. He could also push starters Nathan Vasher and Charles Tillman.

"I'm coming in here ready to compete and doing my part to make the team better, whatever that may be," said Manning, who has nine
regular-season interceptions and four in the 2003 playoffs. "I've been preparing for this moment since the offseason started. ... I'm excited about this opportunity and working my butt off and getting with the coaches and learning the system as fast as possible."

Carolina, which had until April 28 to match the offer, will
receive a third-round draft pick from the Bears.

Information from The Associated Press is included in this report