Bengals tackle arrested at Hartsfield-Jackson on Thursday

5:56 PM, Jan 18, 2013   |    comments
  • Andre Smith (Clayton County Sheriff's Office)
  • Cincinnati Bengals tackle Andre Smith (71) before a game against the San Diego Chargers at Qualcomm Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports
    
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USATODAY -- Bengals offensive tackle Andre Smith was arrested on Thursday and released on Friday in Atlanta after being accused of being in possession of a handgun at Hartsfield International Airport.

According to Atlanta police, Smith was caught Thursday with a .380 caliber pistol as he was preparing to board a flight to Miami. Smith was booked into Clayton County jail and released on Friday afternoon after he was issued a $3,000 bond.

Jon Allen of the Atlanta branch of the Transportation Security Administration, said that security officers discovered a loaded .380 pistol in a carry-on bag and that airport police were alerted. It was third firearm that TSA has discovered at the airport this eyar.

According to people familiar with the case, Smith, 25, did not have knowledge that there was a handgun in his belongings. Those people asked for anonymity because they have not been authorized to speak publicly about the case.

Bengals public relations direction Jack Brennan said: "The team is aware of the incident. However it would inappropriate to comment until the matter is resolved through normal legal channels."

NFL spokesman Greg Aiello said the league would "look into it."

Smith's agent, Ben Dogra, told The Enquirer Friday afternoon that they have retained an attorney in the Atlanta area and that they will go through legal process. Dogra said that he and Smith are hopeful it will be resolved in a timely manner.

Smith was a first-round selection and the sixth overall pick in the 2009 NFL Draft. After mssing 19 games his first two seasons, Smith has missed only two the past two years. This past season marked the first time that Smith played in every game.

According to league playtime statistics, Smith missed only 11 of the offense's 1,135 snaps in the regular season and playoffs. He also received votes for The Associated Press' All-Pro team last week.

Smith will become an unrestricted free agent in March if the team is unable to agree to a contract extension.

There is the possibility that Smith could be subject to a fine for violating the league's personal conduct policy, even though this is his first legal situation.

Former Browns defensive tackle Shaun Rogers was fined by the league in 2010 for a handgun incident in a Cleveland airport.

The arrest comes when the league is still grappling with a murder-suicide by Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Javon Belcher, who, on Dec. 1, shot his girlfriend at their rented home and then killed himself at the Chiefs' facility in front of several coaches and staff members.

In the days after the tragedy, several NFL players told USA TODAY Sports that approximately 75 percent of their teammates owned guns.

"Most guys when they first come into the league is when they first start to realize they need protection," former running back Thomas Jones said. "Because money brings a lot of positive things. But most of the time, it brings more negative things. People don't like you for what you have, for who you are. They don't like you for what you represent.

"And people will go to any length to take what you have or harm you in some way just because they don't have what you have. If you don't have a firearm to protect you from situations and God forbid something happens to you, you wish you would have a firearm."

After the Belcher shootings, several players turned in weapons to team security for safe keeping, team and league officials said.

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