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CB Jones suspended for 2007 season, WR Henry banned eight games

NEW YORK (Ticker) - NFL commissioner Roger Goodell vowed to draft a revised conduct policy with harsher penalties for players who get into trouble with the law. Cornerback Adam “Pacman” Jones and wide receiver Chris Henry learned it wasn’t just talk.

Jones of the Tennessee Titans has been suspended for the entire 2007 season and Henry of the Cincinnati Bengals has been banned eight games for violating the league’s personal conduct policy and engaging in conduct detrimental to the league on numerous occasions, the NFL announced on Tuesday.

Each player must earn the right to be reinstated.

“We must protect the integrity of the NFL,” Goodell said. “The highest standards of conduct must be met by everyone in the NFL because it is a privilege to represent the NFL, not a right. These players, and all members of our league, have to make the right choices and decisions in their conduct on a consistent basis.”

Goodell conducted hearings with Jones and Henry last Tuesday after meeting with a newly formed players advisory committee that worked with the league in formulating a new player conduct policy.

Disciplining players who get into trouble with the law topped the agenda at the league meetings last month. Goodell made it clear then that he intended to adopt a policy that would allow the league to impose harsher and quicker discipline to players who encounter off-the-field problems.

The first ones to feel the teeth of the new policy were Jones and Henry, college teammates at West Virginia whose two-year pro careers have been marred by arrests.

“Your conduct has brought embarrassment and ridicule upon yourself, your club, and the NFL, and has damaged the reputation of players throughout the league,” Goodell told the players in a letter released by the NFL. “You have engaged in conduct detrimental to the NFL and failed to live up to the standards expected of NFL players. Taken as a whole, this conduct warrants significant sanction.”

Jones has been arrested five times and questioned by police five other times since being drafted sixth overall in 2005. He still faces felony and misdemeanor charges of obstructing police in Georgia from an incident in February 2006.

Last month, Las Vegas police recommended prosecutors file a felony charge of coercion and misdemeanor charges of battery against Jones, stemming from a February 19 shooting at a strip club which left one victim with a severed spinal cord.

On the field, Jones is a rising star for the Titans. He recorded four interceptions last season, including one he returned 83 yards for a touchdown. Jones also returned three punts for scores and led the NFL in punt return average (12.9 yards).

Jones will be strictly monitored by the Titans and the NFL during the suspension as part of his opportunity to earn reinstatement through adherence to a set of conditions. His status will be reviewed after the Titans’ 10th regular-season game to determine the extent to which he has complied with the conditions.

One of the conditions is that Jones gets into no further trouble with the law. Another is that he fully cooperate with all required counseling, education and treatment assigned under league or court-ordered programs.

“We are hopeful that it (the suspension) will achieve the goals of disciplining the player and eventually enabling him to return to the field of play,” Titans owner Bud Adams said in a statement. “Our goals for Jones are consistent with the league’s in that regard. We will need assurances from the player on a number of issues before we are comfortable having him return to the team.

“Until we see a change in behavior through his actions and until he shows the ability to avoid controversy off the field, we will move forward with the possibility that he may not return to this team.”

Henry has been arrested four times in the last 14 months and was suspended two games last season for violating the league’s personal conduct policy. The charges include possession of a concealed firearm, aggravated assault with a firearm, DUI and providing alcohol to minors.

Henry will be reinstated after the team’s eighth regular season game if he meets certain conditions during his suspension that will be monitored by the Bengals and the NFL.

“We support the commissioner’s ruling,” Bengals coach Marvin Lewis said. “While we regret the circumstances that called for it, it’s good for both Chris and the Bengals to have the matter resolved. Our team will move forward, and now it is up to Chris to acquire a more mature understanding of his responsibilities as a player for the Bengals and a representative of the NFL.”

Henry must not get into further trouble with the law and must also fully cooperate with all required counseling, education and treatment assigned to him under league programs.

If Henry complies with the conditions, he will be eligible to participate in training camp and play in preseason games.

Jones and Henry were told that any failure to comply with these conditions will result in additional discipline, including possible banishment from the league.

“I must emphasize to you that this is your last opportunity to salvage your NFL career,” Goodell wrote to Jones and Henry. “I urge you to take full advantage of the resources available to support you in that effort.”

Henry, 24, tied for the team lead with nine touchdown catches last season, making 36 receptions for 605 yards. As a rookie in 2005, Henry caught 31 passes for 422 yards and six TDs.

A hearing is pending for Chicago Bears defensive tackle Tank Johnson, who is serving a four-month prison sentence after pleading guilty to a felony weapons charge.

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Updated Tuesday, Apr 10, 2007