Cincinnati Bengals running back Cedric Benson has been handed a three-game suspension by the NFL for violating the league’s personal conduct policy, Yahoo! Sports reported Thursday.
Benson served five days of a 20-day jail sentence prior to the start of the regular season after pleading no contest to a misdemeanor assault charge for punching an Austin, Tex., bar employee in May 2010.
But according to Yahoo! Sports, Benson was suspended for actions that occurred during the NFL lockout, making him the first player to receive a suspension for off-field incidents that took place during the league’s labor dispute.
Benson, 28, was involved in a separate assault case in July — one week before the lockout ended — in which he was accused of fighting a former roommate. The former University of Texas star reportedly entered into a deferred prosecution agreement in that case, meaning the charge would be dropped if he stayed out of trouble for one year.
A high-level NFL Players Association source told Yahoo! Sports in August one aspect of the final labor negotiations included NFL commissioner Roger Goodell agreeing not to punish about two dozen players in exchange for the right to penalize approximately eight players who he considered repeat offenders.
Benson is expected to appeal the suspension at a hearing next Tuesday. He will play Sunday against San Francisco pending the appeal, according to Yahoo! Sports.
The former Chicago Bears running back has led the Bengals in rushing each of the last three seasons, rushing for more than 1,000 yards in 2009 and 2010. He has rushed for 180 yards and one touchdown through two games this season.