The Detroit Lions have been trapped in an unpleasant cycle this offseason: A player is arrested, the team expresses disappointment and then the process repeats itself.
On Monday, the Lions took an additional step after Aaron Berry’s second arrest of the summer. They terminated the defensive back’s contract.
"We have repeatedly stressed to everyone in our organization that there will be appropriate consequences when an expected standard of behavior is not upheld," Lions president Tom Lewand said.
The team said it cut Berry because of "personal conduct which adversely affects the club."
Berry was arrested twice this offseason in Pennsylvania. Cpl. Kyle Gautsch of the Harrisburg Police Department said he was taken into custody early Saturday morning on three charges of simple assault. Gautsch said there "was a weapon allegedly brandished during the incident."
In a statement Monday night, Berry apologized.
"Words cannot describe how embarrassed I am right now," he said. "I’ve let my family, my teammates, my coaches and the entire Detroit Lions organization, including the fans down and I’m so sorry. I know it sounds crazy to some people, but I know I will continue to get better and grow from this unfortunate experience, I have no choice but to get better. There are always two sides to every story and the legal process will be where I will tell my side regarding this recent incident."
Audie Attar, Berry’s agent, said the defensive back is heading to Chicago on Tuesday to enter the NFL’s substance abuse program.
Berry, who is from Harrisburg, was also arrested in that area June 23 on suspicion of DUI, failure to stop and render aid from an accident and other counts. He was set to enter a diversionary program in that case.
That’s not all the Lions have been dealing with this offseason. Running back Mikel Leshoure will miss the first two games this season without pay and will have to give up two more game checks for violating the NFL’s substance-abuse policy.
Leshoure pleaded guilty to marijuana possession in May after police discovered him with pot in his mouth during a traffic stop in southwestern Michigan. That happened on March 12, less than a month after police in a different Berrien County community said they caught Leshoure with marijuana.
Defensive tackle Nick Fairley was arrested in Alabama on charges of driving under the influence and attempting to elude police in May, his second arrest in his home state in two months. He was also arrested April 3 for allegedly possessing marijuana.
Offensive tackle Johnny Culbreath also had a marijuana-related run-in with law enforcement this offseason. Detroit drafted Fairley, Leshoure and Culbreath last year.
Meanwhile, defensive lineman Corey Williams is still dealing with a drunken driving charge after a police officer pulled him over last year in southeast Arkansas. He pleaded not guilty and his lawyer argued that Williams, who is black, was a victim of racial profiling. There hasn’t been a decision made about the charge out of Monticello, Ark.
Berry has been in the NFL two seasons. He started three games last season for the Lions and one in 2010. Corky Goldstein, his lawyer, has asked people to withhold judgment on this latest situation.
But now, Berry is without a team.
The Lions made the playoffs last season for the first time in 12 years, and they return a dynamic young offense that includes quarterback Matthew Stafford and wide receiver Calvin Johnson.
Their biggest problem last season may have been their on-field discipline. The most memorable example was Ndamukong Suh’s stomp to the arm of Green Bay’s Evan Dietrich-Smith, which drew a two-game suspension. Even coach Jim Schwartz was involved in an altercation when he got in the face of San Francisco coach Jim Harbaugh after a game.
The Lions did announce some positive news Monday, saying they’d signed offensive lineman Riley Reiff, their first-round draft pick this year. They also signed wide receiver Dominque Curry.
Reiff didn’t have much to say about his new team’s offseason problems.
"I just worry about myself and trying to help the team any way I can," Reiff said. "We’ve got some great veterans here and other great leaders. I try to take after them, their work ethic and the time they put in."