League again suspends ex-Bengal LB Thurman, out for 2008

Linebacker Odell Thurman, released by the Bengals on May 19, has been suspended indefinitely by the NFL, the league confirmed Friday.

Under terms of the suspension, Thurman will be out of football for his third consecutive season for violations of the NFL's Substance Abuse Policy. The league sent official notification to NFL teams Friday afternoon that Thurman will be suspended for the entire 2008 season.

"He will not be considered for reinstatement until after the 2008 season,'' a league spokesman said.

The NFL reinstated Thurman April 21 after missing the 2006 and 2007 seasons for violating the drug policy. Thurman returned to the Bengals facility after his reinstatement and began preparations for the 2008 season. His grandmother passed away May 12 and he left Cincinnati. When he didn't return a week later, the Bengals released him.

The Bengals didn't give a reason why he was released, but one of his representatives, Safarrah Lawson, told ESPN.com the release was because of a dispute with the team over the amount of time Thurman was away during the funeral.

A week later, a story surfaced Thurman had a violation that could lead to his indefinite suspension. On Friday, the league made that violation known and confirmed the suspension.

The 24-year-old Thurman was considered one of the best young linebackers in football in 2005. A second-round choice of the Bengals, Thurman was a candidate for Defensive Rookie of the Year in 2005, starting 15 games and making a team-high 106 tackles.

He was suspended four games in 2006 when he missed a scheduled drug test. On Sept. 25, 2006, Thurman was arrested on a DUI charge. After that, the league extended the suspension for the entire 2006 season.

The league extended the suspension for the 2007 season. Now, his career is in jeopardy after learning he will be out for three consecutive seasons.

John Clayton in a senior NFL writer for ESPN.com.