Bengals vets angry, embarrassed by latest arrest

The arrest of Cincinnati Bengals cornerback Johnathan Joseph has members of the team angry, embarrassed and concerned that guilt by association has ruined public perception of the team.

Joseph was arrested early Monday and charged with marijuana possession. He's the ninth member of the team to be arrested since Jan. 1, 2006.

The team's front office did not comment on the latest arrest, saying its policy is to not comment on pending legal matters. But in his end-of-season news conference, coach Marvin Lewis said he would be far stricter with the team in 2007.

Defensive tackle John Thornton and other Bengals told the Cincinnati Enquirer that the arrests are dragging the team down. Everyone in the locker room is affected, he said.

"Willie [Anderson], Carson [Palmer], John Thornton, the guys who do things right, have been forced to answer for the guys who decided not to do the right thing," linebacker Brian Simmons told the newspaper. "The perception of the team across the country is bad. It's as if it's going around like the plague."

"If it doesn't stop, we're not going to have any fans left, and I don't blame them. It's ridiculous," Palmer said in comments posted on the team Web site.

"We can't get through a month without getting a guy arrested. It happens on another team and they're shocked and surprised to hear about it," Palmer said. "With us, you hear about it and it doesn't surprise you and you just shake your head and say, 'Another one,' " he said.

Anderson told the Enquirer he and other veterans warned their teammates not to become "No. 9 or No. 10," in reference to becoming the ninth or 10th Bengals player arrested since the start of 2006.

"The thing that is kind of scary is that guys should be feeling like, 'I should make sure not to become No. 9 or No. 10,' " Anderson told the newspaper.

"It's kind of become a joke out here, 'Who will be the next Bengal,' " Anderson told the Enquirer. "I told guys that you are going to look really bad if you are the next guy. I said they can't even put themselves in that position."

Thornton told the Enquirer that after Deltha O'Neal's DUI arrest on Dec. 9, Cincinnati Police
met with the team for an educational session on drunken driving enforcement. Thornton said the session opened his eyes.

"Even big guys can blow a 0.08 after having just three or four beers with dinner. You don't need to feel drunk to be drunk," said Thornton, who tips the scales at 295 pounds.

That convinced Thornton to change the way he drinks in social settings, he told the newspaper.

"I won't drink when I'm out unless I have a driver or someone else is [the designated driver]," he said. "Guys have to be in control."