Commissioner Roger Goodell suspended Henry for the first eight
games of the season Tuesday, part of a tougher league approach to
player misconduct. Tennessee cornerback Adam "Pacman" Jones was
suspended for the entire season.
The two players from West Virginia have become the face of NFL
player misbehavior. Henry was arrested four times in a 14-month
span, and served two days in jail last January after pleading
guilty to letting minors drink alcohol in a hotel room he had
The team had become exasperated with Henry's repeated problems,
most recently his citations for traffic violations last month,
including driving with a suspended license.
"We support the commissioner's ruling," coach Marvin Lewis
said in a statement. "And while we regret the circumstances that
called for it, it's good for both Chris and the Bengals to have the
"Our team will move forward, and now it is up to Chris to
acquire a more mature understanding of his responsibilities as a
player for the Bengals and a representative of the NFL," he added.
Last year, the Bengals became synonymous with player misconduct.
Nine players were arrested during a nine-month span, even though
Goodell had visited Cincinnati and warned the team to stay out of
Henry's latest suspension -- the NFL also sat him for two games
last season -- and Goodell's tougher conduct policy announced
Tuesday sent a message that things must change.
"We get the point," receiver Chad Johnson said Tuesday,
shortly before the suspensions were announced. "He's not playing
any games. He's proving his point."
Henry wasn't with his teammates for offseason workouts on
Tuesday. His agent didn't immediately return a phone message.
Henry's teammates had expected Goodell to get tough.
"It should definitely make a difference," safety Madieu
Williams said. "Obviously over the past couple of months, a lot of
guys around the league have been getting into trouble. His main
goal is to protect the [NFL] shield, so to speak."
The tougher policy applies not only to players. Teams can be
disciplined when players or other employees violate the NFL's
"There's an incentive on the team," Williams said, speaking of
the NFL in general. "The team would put more emphasis on the type
of guys they bring into the locker room. As a whole, it puts
pressure on both the player and the team, which is good."
Receiver T.J. Houshmandzadeh said Goodell had to do something
because so many NFL players have gotten into trouble.
"You know he wants to set a precedent and make an example," he
Houshmandzadeh was in the group of NFL players that met with
Goodell in February to discuss how to deal with modern players.
"He just wanted to get a feel for how today's player is,"
Houshmandzadeh said. "A lot was talked about how Jerry Rice would
score a touchdown and just give the ball to the ref, or Barry
Sanders or Jim Brown. But guys are not like that anymore. We want
to let everybody know that you scored a touchdown.
"It's a different era. Players are different. We were raised
Quarterback Carson Palmer, who has spoken out about player
arrests, welcomed the commissioner's crackdown.
"With all of the things that have been happening recently, I
think it will be good and hopefully give the league a little better
image," Palmer said. "I hope that it works and that guys abide by
the rules and do what's right."
Henry is permitted to work out at the Bengals' facilities in the
offseason and participate in training camp, including preseason
games. He won't be allowed to practice with the team when the
regular season begins. He will be reinstated after the eighth game
if he stays out of trouble.
Goodell warned Henry and Jones that they were down to their
"last opportunity" to save their careers. He warned they could be
banned from the league if they get into more trouble.
Despite missing three games last season, Henry led the Bengals
with nine touchdown catches and was third in catches (36) and yards
(605). No other receiver had as many as 10 catches.
"Me and Chad will have to do more, along with whoever else,"
Palmer said it will be difficult to replace Henry. The Bengals
lost two of their three games without him.
"He's kind of a guy that's irreplaceable with what he brings to
the game, but we've got a lot of young guys that have been waiting
for opportunities and they'll take advantage of whatever games
Chris doesn't play in," Palmer said.