CINCINNATI (AP) — Bengals running back Cedric Benson received a reduced one-game suspension from the NFL on Tuesday for his misdemeanor assault cases settled before the season.
Benson originally received a three-game suspension for the incidents, but appealed on grounds that he wasn't under contract with any NFL team when his latest arrest occurred. Benson's lawyer also argued that NFL players were locked out when Benson was arrested in Texas last July, so he wasn't subject to discipline from the league.
The league rejected his arguments, but reduced the penalty to a one-game suspension without pay and a fine equaling another game check. With the Bengals (4-2) heading into their bye, Benson would miss a game in Seattle on Oct. 30.
After practice on Tuesday, Benson declined to discuss the decision.
"It is what it is," he said, walking away.
Benson leads the Bengals with 458 yards rushing. His 117 carries rank fourth in the NFL. Bernard Scott would become the top running back with Benson out. Scott has gotten more carries in recent games as the backup.
Before Benson's appeal hearing on Sept. 27, the Bengals gave tryouts to running backs Larry Johnson and Clinton Portis, but didn't sign either of them.
Benson was arrested on misdemeanor assault charges in connection with a Texas bar fight in 2010. He met with commissioner Roger Goodell, who decided not to disciplined him but warned him to stay out of trouble. Benson was arrested for misdemeanor assault again in July following an altercation with a roommate.
Harold Henderson, the league's executive vice president for labor relations, wrote in a ruling obtained by The Associated Press on Tuesday that there was ample ground to discipline the running back.
Henderson wrote that Benson indicated his 2010 arrest was likely to be settled in his favor. The league indicated then that if the circumstances changed, he could be punished by the league.
"In fact, something has changed," Henderson said, noting Benson entered a plea agreement on the charge.
Henderson also wrote that under federal labor law, Benson would still be subject to discipline from activities during the lockout. However, he decided that a three-game suspension was "more than warranted" in the case.
Originally, Benson was surprised to learn that his latest arrest would be used against him. After a new collective bargaining agreement was approved, the NFL Players Association agreed that eight players could be disciplined for offseason incidents, while 25 others would not.
Bengals cornerback Adam "Pacman" Jones also is among the eight facing discipline. Jones hasn't played this season because he's recovering from neck surgery, but could be activated following the bye week.