Last week, in my new copy of The Sporting News, I read an article pounding the Cincinnati Bengals for essentially drafting players whom other teams didn't want [Who's bad? They are - NFL - Yahoo! Sports].
Meaning, over the past five drafts, the Bengals selected someone who was completely off some other team's board because of behavior issues. So, under no circumstances did one team want this guy....but the Bengals don't care.
It bit them in the butt last year when draft pick Chris Henry was arrested twice. Once for weed possession and once for waving a stolen gun at a crowd of people. The Bengals said they weren't gonna tolerate such behavior.
So, they go out and draft three guys with iffy pasts. They drafted Frostee Rucker who was charged with sexual assault [he pleaded guilty to a lesser charge]. They drafted Reggie McNeal, whom several teams felt was a headcase and not going to be a good teammate. And they drafted AJ Nicholson, who was accused of sexual assault and suspended by Florida State. Rucker and Nicholson also had some other skeletons that teams didn't want to bother with.
I told a buddy of mine at work about it [I live in Bengals country]. He agreed with the whole Henry situation....but rubbed it off as "every team has problem guys". He's right...as I admitted how my beloved Washington Redskins have several problem players [Sean Taylor being one....who apparantly isn't facing jail time now]. Also, the Carolina Panthers who have decreed their position of drafting character guys has had a laundry list of bad apples in their bunch [Rae Carruth, anyone? Signing Key Johnson. etc].
Just one month after the draft....and just one week after discussing the article....the Bengals were bitten.
AJ Nicholson has been charged with theft.
Nicholson, and former FSU teammate Fred Rouse, have been charged with stealing electronic equipment worth approximately $1,700 from the home of a current player, running back Lorenzo Booker.
Rouse confessed his involvement to authorities on May 28, according to police. Rouse was arrested and charged with three felonies: burglary of a dwelling, grand theft and unrelated possessions of a controlled substance without a prescription, which was ecstasy. Rouse has been released on bond.
A warrant is out for the arrest of Nicholson, who faces felony charges of burglary of a dwelling and grand theft and criminal mischief, which is a misdemeanor.
A police source said that among the items investigators found at Booker's home was a wide receivers glove with "1," Rouse's former jersey number, stitched into the inside of it. The glove had been left under a color television that had been thrown onto the floor.
Entrance to the home, police said, was made by breaking a rear window. In gaining entry, the suspects appeared to cut themselves as they left blood there and on one of Bookers' roommate's sheets. Police later found drops of blood at the exterior of the home of Nicholson's girlfriend.
In a sworn, taped interview on May 28, Rouse said Nicholson entered the home and carried out two portable stereos, a DVD player and a pair of headphones. Rouse also said Nicholson had sustained a substantial cut on a finger.
Yeah, morons. How, just one month after being drafted and probably ready to bank 100 times what he stole...would this idiot do that??
Again...character matters. Especially when you a trying to win again. Now, this isn't a huge blow to the franchise by any means. But it does act as another marker in a trend. Sure, some guys can reform....some guys just made an isolated mistake...and some guys just get a bad rap....but some guys are just bad seeds.
That grow into bad apples. And turn into bad Bengals.