Bengals draft selections raising questions for Lewis, Brown

Published 12:00 am Thursday, August 3, 2006

Hold on. There’s no truth to the rumors that the Cincinnati Bengals have signed free agents Al Capone, John Dillinger, Clyde Barrow, Charles “Pretty Boy” Floyd or Don Corleone. In fact, they haven’t even signed their great-grandsons.

But Bengals fans are scratching their heads after the selection of ex-Virginia linebacker Ahmad Brooks a couple of weeks ago in the supplemental draft.

Brooks is an ex-con, er, ex-Cavalier due to being kicked off the team this past spring for violations coach Al Groh did not divulge. Taking a supplemental player will cost the Bengals a third-round pick next year.

Email newsletter signup

Groh did wish Brooks all the best, which caused everyone to wonder “The best what?”

Maybe Groh is hoping Brooks won’t be a roommate of second-year wide receiver Chris Henry or 2006 draft choices Frostee — ya gotta love the name — Rucker and A.J. Nicholson. And please don’t take parking lessons from Matthias Askew.

Of course, all of the off-field woes became secondary to linebacker Odell Thurman who has been suspended for the first four games this season by the NFL for violations of the league’s substance abuse policy.

Henry, who had several run-ins with the coaches at West Virginia in college, pleaded not guilty last month to providing alcohol to three underage females. He also faces a drunken driving charge in suburban Cincinnati and a charge in Florida of carrying a concealed weapon.

NFL defensive backs take note of that last charge.

Nicholson is facing grand theft and vandalism charges back at Florida. That’s added to a going away present for his former roommate at Florida State: he burglarized his teammate’s apartment.

And then there’s Rucker who has been charged with two counts of spousal battery and vandalism in Los Angeles.

Bengals coach Marvin Lewis said he would “red flag” any players who had past troubles with coaches or the law prior to the draft.

Betsy Ross must have been out of that color of thread during draft week.

Bengals owner Mike Brown defended the selections and reassured fans that the team has lofty standards for the players.

“We want our fans to know that we share their concerns regarding the recent off-field conduct of several Bengals players. We expect our players to be good citizens, as most are, and we hold them accountable for their conduct under team and league rules,” Brown said.

Uh-oh. And I’ll bet Courtney Love is going to serve as the team chaplain.

With all that has happened, I can hear the conversation between Lewis and Brown.

Brown: I gave you a free reign to pick your team, and I’ve been with you all the way. But we’re really taking a hit on some of these draft picks.

Lewis: Mike, lots of players get into scrapes. Every team in the league has these kinds of problems.

Brown: That’s true, but do you think you can keep these guys out of jail and on the playing field?

Lewis: For the most part, yes. I don’t know if we can take Rucker with us when we play the Raiders, and we might have some extradition trouble with Henry and Nicholson if we make the Super Bowl since it’s in Florida this year.

Brown: Well, enough of this talk. What’s done is done. We have to look toward next year. We have to get prepared for the 2007 draft.

Lewis: OK, but maybe we should subscribe to a different scouting evaluation firm. Using the FBI top 10 most wanted list hasn’t been working very well.

Jim Walker is sports editor of The Ironton Tribune.