Bengals: Background checks will be made prior to draft picks

CINCINNATI (AP) - The Cincinnati Bengals, wracked by the arrests of several players over the last year, will look more closely at the backgrounds of the players they draft, team president Mike Brown said.

Brown told The Cincinnati Enquirer for a story published Saturday that the team would change its approach on draft day.

"There may be some gifted athletes we won't pick that we might have picked a year ago," Brown told the newspaper.

A Kenton County (Ky.) judge sentenced Bengals receiver Chris Henry on Thursday to two days in jail after he pleaded guilty to letting minors drink in a hotel room he rented last spring. He drew a two-game suspension last season for violating the league's conduct and substance abuse policies, and could get a harsher punishment for his latest conviction.

Henry has become the symbol of Cincinnati's extensive off-field problems - nine players arrested in the last nine months, two of them suspended by the league during the season. Henry had four arrests in the last 14 months.

He avoided jail time in the first three cases, but was taken to the Kenton County Jail after a judge accepted his guilty plea.

Henry's sentencing came three days after cornerback Johnathan Joseph, the team's No. 1 draft pick in 2006, was arrested in Boone County on a charge of marijuana possession.

District Judge Greg Grothaus told Henry, "You embarrassed a lot of people: teammates, friends and family, the city, the fans and myself."

Brown said Henry deserved to be scolded.

"It did not displease me that the judge did that. We're trying to do the same thing with Chris, to send a message to other players," Brown said.

Brown also said the league and players union limit team discipline.

"There's only so much we can do in these situations," Brown said. "We can't act as forcefully as we did in the past. ... Our hands are tied. We can't fine, sanction or fire a player."

Lewis can discipline players if they show "conduct detrimental to club," as written in the league's collective bargaining agreement with the players union.

Teams can suspend a player up to four weeks but no longer, according to the agreement. A team or coach also can fine a player one week's salary. Henry had a base salary of $310,000 in 2006, and each of his 17 weekly game checks was worth $18,235.

Lewis disciplined starting tailback Rudi Johnson and linebacker Odell Thurman in separate games in 2005. Lewis made the players sit out the first series for breaking undisclosed team rules. Lewis repeated the punishment for Johnson this past season, not starting him in the San Diego game.

Brown expects Henry to be back for a third season.

"I don't think it's wrong to give people a chance, and that includes Chris Henry," Brown said. "He has paid a real price for it in his personal life and for us, and I don't abandon hope for him at all."

Thurman is serving a one-year suspension for a third violation of the substance-abuse policy. Thurman and Henry are "broken records," Brown said.

"Everyone here is fed up with this, including Marvin and me, and we want it to stop," he said.