Bengals release Thurman
After sticking with Odell Thurman through a two-year NFL suspension, the Bengals will announce by the end of business today that they are waiving the second-year linebacker from Georgia.
Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis called Safarrah Lawson, one of Thurman’s Atlanta-based representatives, and told him that the team has cut ties with Thurman, Lawson told The Enquirer this morning.
The Bengals later confirmed the transaction.
Thurman was in his native Monticello, Ga., last week to attend his grandmother’s funeral and take care of family matters, Lawson said. Thurman’s parents are dead, and the woman that brought up Thurman had died, Lawson said.
“The NFL provided Odell the opportunity to earn his way back onto our team, but we have not seen the right steps taken by him,” Lewis said this morning in a statement released by the Bengals.
“With our offseason work in progress and new talent added at our linebacker position, we’ve determined it’s best to keep moving in a direction that does not include Odell.”
Thurman missed three voluntary on-field practices. Lawson said Lewis told him that the Bengals needed Thurman in the building, that he wasn’t in the building and that they were going in a different direction.
“The support he got from the fans, from the people of Cincinnati, from Marvin Lewis and (team president) Mike Brown, this comes as a surprise,” Lawson told The Enquirer in a phone interview.
Thurman missed the past two seasons because of a league suspension for repeated violations of its substance abuse policy. He was suspended for all of the 2006 seasons following a September DUI arrest in the East End. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell then extended Thurman’s sentence to an entire season. The league then denied his application for reinstatement last July and said he could re-apply following the 2007 season. Thurman was allowed to begin working out with the Bengals at Paul Brown Stadium in January and reinstated April 21.
The Bengals earlier this spring, on April 3, released wide receiver Chris Henry following his fifth arrest in 28 months.
Thurman led the Bengals with 148 total tackles as a rookie in 2005 and tied a franchise rookie record with five interceptions. He started 15 of 16 regular season games and the team's wildcard playoff loss to the Steelers -- which would be the last game he would play in a Bengals uniform.
The Bengals used their first-round pick April 26 in the NFL draft on Southern Cal linebacker Keith Rivers.
The Bengals now have none of their first-day draft picks from 2005 remaining on the team. Linebacker David Pollack, taken in the first round, has retired, Lewis said, because of a fractured C6 vertebra. Thurman was the second-round pick and Henry the third.