Mark Curnutte offers the latest on the Cincinnati Bengals

Mark Curnutte started covering the Bengals and the NFL for The Enquirer in 2000. He previously wrote about urban affairs and other social issues for the Enquirer. He won the prestigious 1994 Unity Award from Lincoln University (Missouri) for "A Polite Silence," a seven-day series about race relations in Greater Cincinnati. He also has worked as an assistant features editor and features writer at The News & Observer in Raleigh, N.C. Curnutte is second vice president and a three-year board member of the Professional Football Writers of America (PFWA). He is a 1984 Miami University graduate.

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Monday, May 19, 2008

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.


at 5/19/2008 10:50 AM Blogger Bill said...

Has to be more to it than just missing workouts for a funeral..

at 5/19/2008 11:00 AM Blogger hey hey redlegs said...

Wasn't he in GA for his grandmother's (the last member of his immediate family) funeral. If this is true this is pretty bushleague by the bengals. They better be real sure that the linebackers they have a going to be legit. This is stupid, at least give the kid a chance. they aren't even mandatory yet! why not cut tj or chad or levi or anyone else that wasn't at VOLUNTARY camp. stupid

at 5/19/2008 11:01 AM Blogger mindriot25 said...

There has to be something else going on here. As dumb as the Bengals can be I doubt they are dumb enought to openly violate the CBA like this. Maybe they hope to resign him at less money or they are about to bring another LB in.

at 5/19/2008 11:06 AM Blogger Bob said...

I agree with bill. Look for Thurman's name to appear in a police blotter somewhere soon. Why else would the Bengals stick with him for 2 years and then drop him like a hot potato so quickly when they need so much help at linebacker?

at 5/19/2008 11:07 AM Blogger jemerick said...

This makes no sense.

With the pending charges against Brooks I don't see how the Bengals can release Thurman for something so minute in comparison to the other actions of current and former players.

There has to be more to this story, if not then poor form Bengals front office.

at 5/19/2008 11:10 AM Blogger steveallenky said...

If its not for more than missing voluntary work outs then the ML and the Bengals should be held liable for violating the CBA.

I look for him to go elsewhere and be very productive.

He was still their best LB in the last 10 yrs.

at 5/19/2008 11:21 AM Blogger jkb said...

Looks like the Bengals are cleaning house. Wonder what he really did.

at 5/19/2008 11:32 AM Blogger Anonymous said...

If this is seriously only because of his grandmothers funeral then that just isnt cool. Understandably business is business but show some compasion for crying out loud. He lost what was basically his mother.
Oh well, i guess. hope we dont have to play him this year. that will be an ugly thing for our offense.

Carson Palmer will be MVP (if odell doesnt rip his knee off)

Mike from double-you tee eff

at 5/19/2008 11:36 AM Blogger hardcore_panhead said...

I would have to agree that there must be something of larger significance for the Bengals to release Thurman. Loosing someone as special as his grandmother who also raised him has to be heart shattering. If Marvin is trying to make a statement with Thurman because he missed “voluntary” practices then I think this shows just how weak Marvin and the Bengals truly are!

at 5/19/2008 11:40 AM Blogger stew said...

What does the depth chart look like now? I thought they were counting on Thurman to start along with Brooks and Rivers.

at 5/19/2008 11:45 AM Blogger Another losing season said...

I applaud the Bengals on this move. It should have been done two years ago. The Brown family (again) was more than fair and patient with this troubled man.

I could be wrong but it was my understanding the funeral took place several days before the voluntary workouts evan began. Plenty of time for him to get on with his life and his affairs in order.

These reclamation players just aren't worth the collateral damage they cause. I say one and done.

at 5/19/2008 11:45 AM Blogger Cassanova said...

The fact that Thurman was at a funeral Tuesday and he hasn't been in the building since, speaks volumes. Mike Brown's fierce loyalty to players and coaches has come back to bite him once again.

at 5/19/2008 11:46 AM Blogger Frank Robinson's Ghost said...

I guess "voluntary" workouts really aren't when you're on thin ice.

If there was more to it than that, I doubt the Bengals would have sugar-coated it to his agent -- especially with an explanation that arguably violates the CBA.

at 5/19/2008 12:29 PM Blogger Nickname unavailable said...

Whole thing is a train-wreck. I guess we probably aren't going to go 8-8 with OR without him.

at 5/19/2008 12:34 PM Blogger Brian said...

I guess my last two jersey purchases were good choices, Thurman and C Johnson. Im buying a Rivers jersey ASAP

at 5/19/2008 12:43 PM Blogger rich said...

this is a dumb move. the guy just lost his grandma who basically raised him. you can say he should have been back by now, but how long would you grieve over losing the person who raised you! the bengals made a bad call here, someones gonna pick him up and by next year he'll be tearing up the league

at 5/19/2008 3:34 PM Blogger Da Phoenixx said...

We don't know what the real reason is and probably never will. What we do know is that the Bengals drafted Rivers and still went 7-9 last year with no linebackers to speak of against a very tough schedule. We'll be fine, and hopefully Thurman will also. Our loyalty should be to the team first, players second.

at 5/19/2008 4:15 PM Blogger GMWorker04 said...

I liked Thurman also, but I really believe without letting the cat out of the bag, there is more to the story. They are being tightlipped about it to give him a chance to be on another team. I'm in a jersey dilema... I would go with the #9 but I aint too sure if our line will keep him safe enough to last the duration. What is Who Dey's number, he aint going.
Ex Chad fan signing off.

at 5/19/2008 7:14 PM Blogger Kensil said...

I think there's more to the story as well but they should have kept him around for pre-season and trade him for a draft pick. Someone will need a lb because of injuries.

at 5/19/2008 7:25 PM Blogger KY.Buckeye said...

The guy is in bad shape and hasn't been working out. I think my grandma would want me to get my life back in order and get serious with my career. Good move by the Bengals. He just doesn't care. Maybe THIS will motivate him.

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