Updated: 6:45 p.m.
The short, troubled career of Bengals wide receiver Chris Henry came to an end Thursday morning when the club released him just hours after he turned himself in on an assault arrest.
Henry, who endured two NFL suspensions following his four arrests from December of 2005 to June of 2006, said just last week that he was looking forward to finally having a full season with his teammates. He has been charged with assaulting a University of Cincinnati freshman in a Monday night incident in the Clifton section of Cincinnati.
Bengals president Mike Brown issued the following statement:
"Chris Henry has forfeited his opportunity to pursue a career with the Bengals. His conduct can no longer be tolerated.
Henry"The Bengals tried for an extended period of time to support Chris and his potentially bright career. We had hoped to guide him toward an appropriate standard of personal responsibility that this community would support and that would allow him to play in the NFL. We acknowledge those fans who had concerns about Chris; at the same time we tried to help a young man.
"But those efforts end today, as we move on with what is best for our team."
According to Channel 12 in Cincinnati, Gregory Meyer claims Henry threw a bottle, shattering his car window and punched him in the face outside his apartment complex. The station said Henry told police it was a case of mistaken identity.
Before NFL commissioner Roger Goodell suspended Henry for the first eight games of the 2007 season, Henry caught 67 balls that included 15 touchdowns. He had two last season on just 21 catches. He may never play again since Goodell informed him he was giving him one more chance.
Henry's departure thins out the Bengals wide receiving corps even more. The next player behind Pro Bowlers T.J. Houshmandzadeh and Chad Johnson is Antonio Chatman with just 22 Bengals catches in two injury-marred seasons.
Johnson has been demanding a trade, but indicated in an ESPN interview Wednesday that he'll report to mandatory activities. Agent Drew Rosenhaus had no comment on the interview.
Wide receiver T.J. Houshmandzadeh said he spoke with Johnson on Thursday and that Johnson told him he was "misunderstood" in the interview.
"But Chad could be back. I'm not sure what he's going to do. It's so far away," Houshmandzadeh said.
With no veteran receiver on the market, the Bengals' third receiver for 2008 may not even be on the team yet. Certainly it looks now like two of the 10 picks in the April 26-27 draft are going to be wide receivers, but many mocks say No. 9 is too high for Oklahoma's Malcolm Kelly, the consensus top receiver.
Marvin Frazier, one of Henry's representatives, said he'll continue to try and help Henry get his life together. With Goodell's statement hanging over his head as well as Thursday's court appearance, football may not be a part of it.
Frazier expressed his appreciation to Brown as well as head coach Marvin Lewis and Bengals vice president Troy Blackburn for their support. Henry hadn't been arrested since a June 2006 DUI, but he was evicted from Newport on the Levee for five years last year after an alleged incident with a parking valet.
"The Lord knows the Bengals went above the call of duty to try and help him," Frazier said. "They really are a wonderful organization. Believe me, they did everything they could to try and help him. It started with Mike Brown, and also Marvin Lewis. Troy Blackburn. They were all great. It should come from us how much we appreciate it."
Frazier said he didn't know what's next for Henry and doesn't know if he'll stay in Cincinnati or return to his hometown of New Orleans.
"We're taking it one day at a time, one step at a time," Frazier said.
The first steps were extremely difficult. According to The Cincinnati Enquirer, Henry pleaded not guilty to assault and criminal damaging before Hamilton County Municipal Court Judge Bernie Bouchard. Henry's lawyer, who disputed the police report, called the $51,000 bond "outrageous."
The newspaper said Bouchard, observing Henry's unemployment status, put Henry under house arrest and ordered an electronic ankle bracelet and global positioning system for him that will monitor his whereabouts every 30 seconds
The 6-4, 210-pound Henry, a third-round pick out of West Virginia in 2005, arrived with baggage. But he slipped out of the first round not because of legal problems but because of anger issues and a personality that drew the ire of his coaches. The Bengals opted to select him after a pre-draft visit to Paul Brown Stadium and his 22 touchdowns in 23 games for the Mountaineers that came courtesy of his speed and jump-ball ability.
Right tackle Willie Anderson, the dean of the Bengals as he heads into his 13th season, called it "sad," and realized how hard it was for the club to cut him.
"When you've got a guy that catches the eye and heart of an owner and he does everything to help that guy and it still doesn't happen, it's sad to see that talent go to waste," Anderson said. "I know Mike Brown and Marvin and (assistant strength coach) Ray Oliver did so much to help him."
Anderson also found himself thinking not only about Henry's young children, but the extended family that came to live with him at the beginning of his rookie year in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.
"We all know that there were more people depending on him than the Bengals," Anderson said. "It's just sad."
As for the suddenly thin receiver depth, Anderson recalled the glory days of 2005 in which "Kevin Walter was the fifth and we had five legit receivers."
"I think Chad loves football too much to sit out," Anderson said. "If he's disappointed with the losing, we're with him on that. I can't blame him there. We're all upset. Hopefully he'll be back and he'll be himself."
Houshmandzadeh, who led the NFL with 112 catches last season while looking for more deep balls, says he's ready to pick up the slack.
"I always want to do more. You need a guy to go deep, here I am. I can go deep," Houshmandzadeh said. "It's hard to feel sorry for a guy that doesn't feel sorry. I mean, I feel bad for him. He's got a family and everything. But he must have known he was running out of chances. He would do something and he'd get another chance and then you'd say that's going to be it. Then he'd do something else and get another chance."
Also Thursday, the Bengals released punter Danny Baugher.