It may finally be time for Odell Thurman to smile again.
After being drafted in the second round by the Cincinnati Bengals in the 2005 NFL Draft, Thurman had reason to be optimistic.
He was a cornerstone of the team's young defense led by Head Coach Marvin Lewis.
He wasted no time justifying the Bengals' pick, as he recorded 106 tackles and 1.5 sacks, while leading an aggressive defense. Thurman was responsible for 10 forced turnovers (five interceptions and five forced fumbles), nine deflections, and even a defensive touchdown.
Needless to say, the future was bright for Thurman and Cincinnati, as the Bengals made the playoffs with an impressive 11-5 record.
However, Cincinnati fell to the rival Pittsburgh Steelers in their playoff opener, 31-17, lost their star quarterback Carson Palmer to a knee injury, and have never been the same.
The loss of their stud in the middle, Thurman, might have had something to do with it.
Never a poster-boy for high character, Thurman found himself in the midst of many off-field issues, as he battled drug and alcohol problems. After several failed NFL tests, Thurman was suspended by the league for the first four games of the 2006 season, and after Thurman failed to make any progress, the suspension was extended for the remainder of the season.
The next season proved to be even more difficult for Thurman, as alcohol and violence issues prompted another year-long suspension from the league, and inevitably led to his final release for the team prior to the 2008 season.
Thurman failed to latch-on with another club last year, and when the same seemed destined to happen for 2009, he cut his losses and joined the up-start UFL's Florida Tuskers.
With an indefinite suspension from the league, Thurman opted to join the Tuskers to display his re-dedicated work ethic and attempt to clean up the view of his character.
Thurman may have a long road ahead of him to prove his character is that of NFL standards, but from a talent standpoint, he is just one of the many former "star" additions to the league that establishes it's credibility and quest to deliver the best possible product to put on the field.
With his talent and experience, Thurman is a near lock to make the Tuskers final roster and start, giving him the perfect launching-pad back to the NFL.
Now, just like Thurman has for the past three years, the rest of us will have to sit back and wait.
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