Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

19 May 2008

Bengals Cut Odell Thurman

So let's get the timeline straight here:

Odell Thurman is reinstated

Thurman attends rookie minicamp (voluntary), impressing. Ahmad Brooks is moved from middle linebacker to strongside linebacker, leaving Thurman the obvious starter at "Mike".

Thurman's grandmother dies. He goes to Georgia to attend the funeral and misses three (voluntary) workouts, and admits to Marvin Lewis he expects to miss a few more.

The Bengals cut Thurman, promoting "Dhancin'" Dhani Jones to starter at MLB.

Um, y'what?

Posted by: Stuart Fraser on 19 May 2008

32 comments, Last at 27 May 2008, 3:20pm by Boom Boom


by panthersnbraves (not verified) :: Mon, 05/19/2008 - 3:49pm

seems kinda harsh.

I just hope he doesn't end up somewhere in the NFC South.

by bubqr (not verified) :: Mon, 05/19/2008 - 3:59pm

So you draft 4 players with some character concerns, but cut Thurman, a proven playmaker, because they want to "clean the house" ?

Just be consistent.

PS : Way to miss on the chance of having 3 exciting playmakers at LB.

by Dean (not verified) :: Mon, 05/19/2008 - 4:06pm

Interesting that he's cut after missing voluntary workouts. I think he would have a legitimate wrongful-termination issue here.

by PhillyCWC (not verified) :: Mon, 05/19/2008 - 4:10pm

Being cut for Dhancin' Dhani is just insulting. He should sue based on that alone!

by ToastPatterson (not verified) :: Mon, 05/19/2008 - 4:28pm

Does this mean anyone in the league can sigh Thurman now? He'd make a nice backup to Antonio Pierce.

by mawbrew (not verified) :: Mon, 05/19/2008 - 4:29pm

Thurman's career to this point is ..... unusual.

by Tom (not verified) :: Mon, 05/19/2008 - 5:00pm

This story needs more bowties.

by masocc (not verified) :: Mon, 05/19/2008 - 5:04pm

I hate to pile on a guy that's suffered such terrible losses...

But I kind of assume he's gone back to his old substance abuse problems, and the Bengals noticed.

by Harris (not verified) :: Mon, 05/19/2008 - 5:10pm

#8 Why? There's no evidence suggesting that. If you're thinking, "It's unthinkable that the Bengals wouldn't cut him for this considering all the lunatics they've got running around." I hasten to remind you that we're talking about the Bengals. Nothing is too stupid as to be unthinkable.

by Jimmy (not verified) :: Mon, 05/19/2008 - 5:23pm



That's the best bowtie I can do.

by James, London (not verified) :: Mon, 05/19/2008 - 5:33pm

Anyone short at Linebacker with enough cap room for a vet minimum deal with incentves?

Er, that'll be half the league then. Assuming this is just the Bengals being the Bengals, and that he's not back on the grog/weed/nosebag, he could make someone very happy. "No thugs, no hoodlums" aside, I wouldn't mind seeing him go to camp with the Dolphins. What do you have to lose?

by Matt Weiner (not verified) :: Mon, 05/19/2008 - 5:37pm

#3: From the article: "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."

Now, Lawson is one of Thurman's agents so this may not be entirely accurate, but if Lewis was dumb enough to say that it looks like an open-and-shut case, if the "voluntary" part of voluntary workouts has any binding force.

by gmc (not verified) :: Mon, 05/19/2008 - 5:50pm

Calling workouts voluntary is a team matter. They can require people to show up, or cut someone like Thurman just because guys with discipline issues missing time is a bad thing to get into.

Now, if I was a team that lost to Cleveland last year despite scoring 50 points because I had no linebackers, I might not fire my best one while he's at a funeral. But there's no wrongful term issue here, this is the NFL. You get cut you get cut.

by masocc (not verified) :: Mon, 05/19/2008 - 5:59pm

Re #8: You want to know why? Because one of my first instincts last week after my Mom died was "Man, I need to get wasted". And I did. And I am FAR from having a substance abuse problem.

Also, thinking back on the last 5 of my friends that have had to deal with death, 4 of them got wasted. One was a recovering addict. Small sample size theater? Perhaps. But I also recall a similar discussion during psych classes. I'll have to dig around for some actual numbers from studies, if you *really* care.

Perhaps it's my social circles... but they're pretty diverse, and I would say a relatively fair cross-section of society.

I think when people that use various substances, whether it be for recreation, escape, or addiction, using said substances jumps to fore of your mind.

by mattman (not verified) :: Mon, 05/19/2008 - 6:09pm

Figures. The Bengals get killed for having all these bad-character guys on their team, then they get killed for letting them go.

#8 - "I hasten to remind you that we’re talking about the Bengals. Nothing is too stupid as to be unthinkable."

#11 - "Assuming this is just the Bengals being the Bengals"

The Bengals have made their share of ill-advised moves, but I wasn't aware of their lengthy track record of releasing useful players for no good reason. Thurman has missed the last TWO seasons to suspensions, injuries, and character questions. He's been out of the NFL longer than Pacman Jones. So the safe assumption here is that it was the Bengals, and not Thurman, who screwed up here?

Thurman looked like a monster his rookie year, but it's worth remembering that was the last time he played football. It'll be interesting to see who takes a flier. I wouldn't get my hopes up.

by Raiderjoe (not verified) :: Mon, 05/19/2008 - 6:21pm

just another Bengals bust. no wonder they are suc a crap tesam.

here;s another bowtie

by Raiderjoe (not verified) :: Mon, 05/19/2008 - 6:23pm

sorry bowtie didn't work, must have had a rip in it or got eaten by moth

by Sean (not verified) :: Mon, 05/19/2008 - 6:37pm

Pats could sign him to provide depth and some young talent. Also, after two years out of the league, he's almost like a rookie again, it shouldn't be too hard to break any bad playing habits he picked up in CIN. It's correcting the off the field habits that would be the issue, given his track record.

by Another Jake (not verified) :: Mon, 05/19/2008 - 6:59pm

Raiderjoe #17 FTW

by mm (not verified) :: Mon, 05/19/2008 - 9:59pm

Calling workouts voluntary is a team matter. They can require people to show up, or cut someone like Thurman just because guys with discipline issues missing time is a bad thing to get into.

Actually, calling workouts voluntary is a matter between the player's union and the league. The collective bargaining agreement limits the number of workouts a team can require during the offseason. Anything more is a violation.

by sophandros (not verified) :: Mon, 05/19/2008 - 10:52pm

1: Dan Morgan just retired from the Saints. If Thurman can play WLB, then, well...

by the big show (not verified) :: Tue, 05/20/2008 - 1:21am

I hate to say this ... I think the Seahawks should sign him. Ugh ...

by raiderjoe#1fan (not verified) :: Tue, 05/20/2008 - 1:23am

Ok, even I don't even know what he said ...

by kibbles (not verified) :: Tue, 05/20/2008 - 3:17am

I know they're going high character and all, but Odell Thurman sounds a far sight better than Niko Koutouvides at MLB for the Broncos.

by M (not verified) :: Tue, 05/20/2008 - 10:57am

This sounds like a potential case where getting "fired" could greatly help his career going forward.

#14 - I fully agree with you on the grief/inebriation thing. However, if you already have substance-abuse issues, it can be a very slippery slope to a permanent lifestyle. I've seen a few people drink themselves virtually to death after a loved one or close friend died.

That said, I think the Bengals easily could have waited to see how he was handling himself in training camp, and made such a decision then. I hope he can turn his life around - maybe having his grandmother die could be the "kick in the pants" to get him straight.

by bravehoptoad (not verified) :: Tue, 05/20/2008 - 11:14am

Yah, stupid move for the Bengals. If you don't want the guy, fine, but how hard is it to wait a few weeks to fire him? Now everyone on the planet thinks you've fired him because he had the gall to attend his grandma's funeral? GREAT p.r.

by Joe McKinney aka The Brown Blazer (not verified) :: Tue, 05/20/2008 - 6:43pm

Yo Raiderjoe,

I just want to say that your posts, whether intentional or accidental, almost always make me fall off my chair.

Keep kickin' it, homeboy.

Lates lates,

The Brown Blazer

by Stoppable Manning (not verified) :: Wed, 05/21/2008 - 9:24am

The way this is characterized isn't entirely accurate. Thurman told the team he'd be back by May 12th or 13th. A week came and went and Thurman was a no show. Voluntary or not, Thurman made the commitment to be at these workouts and didn't follow through.

by Quentin (not verified) :: Wed, 05/21/2008 - 6:21pm

I hear the Niners are pretty desperate for some linebackers.

From what I understand, teams are not even supposed to insinuate that these are mandatory. He probably does have a legimitate grievance here, and I won't be the least bit surprised to see him take this to the NFLPA.

by Alan Milnes (not verified) :: Sat, 05/24/2008 - 6:09am

He has NO CHANCE at winning a grievance. Participation is voluntary but the Coach decides who starts and who is on the roster. If you exercise your right not to attend a workout you run the risk of someone taking your job. Has happened before, will happen again.

by HV (not verified) :: Sun, 05/25/2008 - 5:38am

According to his agent, Thurman will not be filing a grievance. Marvin said that Odell was not "taking the right steps" and hadn't been in the facility enough since his reinstatement. There is much more to this than Thurman simply missing some voluntaries. He's been gone for two years, and he's not really working to come back and make the most of his opportunity. Too bad, he was great for us in his rookie year...

by Boom Boom (not verified) :: Tue, 05/27/2008 - 3:20pm

well, the first four times he claimed his grandmother died, he got away with it.

Reminds me of when Epstein would miss school & have a note for mr woodson... always signed, "Epstein's mother".