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Odell Lamar Thurman (born July 9, 1983 in Monticello, Georgiamarker) is an American football linebacker for the Florida Tuskers of the United Football League. He was drafted by the Cincinnati Bengals in the second round of the 2005 NFL Draft. He played college football at Georgia.

Early years

Odell Thurman attended Monticello High School in Monticello, Georgia. While there, he was a Macon Telegraph first team All-Purpose All-State selection at both linebacker and fullback, and won Class AA honorable mention All-State honors from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, and was invited to play in the 2001 Georgia-Florida all-star game. As a senior, he rushed for 1,187 yards and recorded 153 tackles. His high school football coach was Steve Patterson. He had one of the greatest rookie years ever for a linebacker

College career

Odell Thurman played just two years and 23 games at the University of Georgia. Still, he was named an All-SEC player. Thurman was also a semi-finalist for the 2004 Dick Butkus Award. However, he entered the NFL draft after his junior season. The signature play of his career at Georgia came in the 26-7 win over Auburn in 2003. With Georgia leading 19-0, Auburn drove down to the Georgia 2 early in the fourth quarter. On third and goal, Auburn quarterback Jason Campbell threw a pass, which was deflected and intercepted by Thurman. He returned it 99 yards for a touchdown.

Professional career

Cincinnati Bengals

Thurman was selected 48th overall in the second round of the 2005 NFL Draft and his excellent initial play on the field made him an instant candidate for the NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year Award. Ultimately, San Diego Chargers linebacker Shawne Merriman won the award.

Thurman was suspended for two seasons with the Bengals for violating the league's substance abuse policy. He was released from the Bengals before the start of the 2008 season.

Drug and alcohol problems

Odell Thurman was suspended by the National Football League for the first four games of the 2006 regular season for violating the league's substance abuse policy. According to sources, Thurman did not return to Cincinnati in time and failed to take the test.

On September 27, 2006, the NFL extended Thurman's suspension for the remainder of the season as a result of the arrest for drunk driving. Thurman's locker was emptied by the Bengals organization. Coach Marvin Lewis said he didn't want to see Odell Thurman anywhere near the stadiummarker, and he then deactivated Chris Henry for the next game for being part of the incident. Lewis later stated that he didn't expect Thurman to play for the Bengals in 2007.

On February 21, 2007, Thurman pleaded no contest to the driving drunk charge and said he was undergoing treatment for alcohol abuse.

On May 15, 2007, Bengals' head coach Marvin Lewis told ESPN that Thurman would have the chance to return to the team, if reinstated by the NFL. Thurman was eligible for reinstatement on July 11, 2007. It was suspected that the organization would cut Thurman from the roster, but Lewis said otherwise.

On June 5, however, ESPN reported that he was wanted for assault in Georgia, for alleged kicking and hitting two men. Thurman and his brother were sought for questioning in connection with this assault. The sherriff involved in the case said that the incident was not quickly reported and that a magistrate would choose whether or not to continue with the charges on June 8, 2007. Conflicting reports from witnesses at the party where the assault allegedly occurred however may make prosecution of this case difficult.

On June 8, 2007, papers seeking to dismiss the charges stated above were filed, and charges against the linebacker were summarily dropped. Chrissy Pitts, deputy clerk of Magistrate Court in Jasper County, said "It was settled, we aren’t aware of any terms that were involved in the settlement. That was between the attorneys and the parties.”

On July 25, 2007, Thurman's request for re-instatement into the NFL was denied by commissioner Roger Goodell, so he was not able to play in 2007.

On July 12, 2008, Thurman was indicted by a grand jury for breaking another man's jaw at a Waterpark in Sandusky, Ohiomarker during the previous month, though he was not arrested on the scene. On March 24, 2009, prosecutors dismissed the assault case against Thurman without prejudice citing insufficient evidence.

NFL reinstatement

On January 28, 2008, The NFL cleared linebacker Odell Thurman to resume working out with the Cincinnati Bengals, a step toward reinstatement from his two-year suspension.

Thurman was reinstated by NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell on April 21, 2008. "Odell has met the NFL's conditions for reinstatement and has been added to our offseason roster," said Bengals coach Marvin Lewis.

On May 19, 2008, the Cincinnati Bengals waived Thurman, after Head Coach Marvin Lewis stated that the team "had not seen the right steps taken by him." However, Thurman's representatives reported that the move was related to Thurman missing Offseason Training Activities (OTA's), which are not mandatory according to the NFL Collective Bargaining Agreement.

On June 2, 2008, Sports Illustrated reported Odell, recently cut by the Bengals, had failed his second drug test in 3 seasons.

On June 6, 2008, ESPN reported Odell had been suspended by the NFL indefinitely. As part of the ruling, Thurman cannot apply for reinstatement until after the 2008 season.

Return to football

Thurman signed with the Florida Tuskers of the United Football League.


  1. NFL suspends Odell Thurman for season
  3. ESPN - Lewis: Thurman has chance to return if reinstated - NFL
  5. Assault complaint against Bengals’ LB dropped - NFL -
  6. The Enquirer - This article is no longer available
  7. Odell Thurman Accused of Breaking a Man's Jaw at a Water Park - NFL FanHouse
  8. [
  9. NFL reinstates LB Thurman after two-year suspension
  10. ESPN - Thurman's rep: Release by Bengals came after dispute over family issue - NFL
  11. ESPN - Thurman reportedly violates substance abuse policy again - NFL
  12. ESPN - League again suspends ex-Bengal LB Thurman, out for 2008 - NFL

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