Browns notebook: Teammates defend humble Bodden

Steve Doerschuk

Leigh Bodden came into the NFL through the back door, undrafted out of Duquesne.

He seemed shy at first, but not on the field, where he played with abandon.

He lost the shy streak but remained soft-spoken, even humble. He didn’t know how to take Chad Johnson saying he was really good. He always seemed to be smiling.

He’d kid around with teammates, including one of his better friends on the team, captain Andra Davis.

“One time,’’ Bodden said recently, “Dra was just yelling out a call, but nobody could understand him. It was a combination of his mouthpiece being in and his country accent. It was like, ‘What’d he say?’ ”

He told a story about Davis sneaking a peanut butter sandwich into a practice shoe.

Thursday, though, was one of the unfunniest days of Bodden’s five-year NFL career. He glumly walked into a locker room where the air was thick with indications he’d been all over the news.

He apologized to teammates and coaches after getting cited for driving backward the wrong way at the airport, then turning it into an argument with police that got him arrested, handcuffed and jailed.

Bodden pleaded innocent, practiced and is expected to play Sunday against Pittsburgh. Indications are he won’t get a suspension from the NFL, but that is pending.

Davis defended Bodden before they headed out for practice.

“I never even really have seen the guy get mad,’’ the veteran linebacker said. “He’s one of the standup guys around here.

“He’s one of the best guys on this team. I mean, everybody knows how humble he is, so ... I don’t believe any of that stuff they said.’’

Bodden said his lawyer advised him not to discuss details of the airport incident.

Browns Head Coach Romeo Crennel left himself open to criticism when he initially called the incident “a little run-in with the law,” given ongoing tensions over airport security.

However, Crennel stopped short of taking Bodden’s side, saying he will “wait until I find out all the facts.’’

In another breath, Crennel said, “There may be more to it than just the easygoing guy going off the deep end.”

This is how the incident pieces together:

Bodden was picking up someone at the airport. He drove his SUV in reverse the wrong way in a pick-up zone.

Bodden was ordered to pull over when a verbal altercation ensured. He left his vehicle and began walking to a door as the exchange got more heated and police called for backup.

Bodden allegedly was uncooperative when police tried to handcuff him. He has a Sept. 25 court date.

Extra points

- Linebacker Willie McGinest said he is making good progress as he recovers from back surgery. Can he play as soon as Oct. 7, when the Browns play at his former home, New England? “I hope it’s a lot sooner than that,’’ McGinest said.

- Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger pointed to the first thing he liked about new Head Coach Mike Tomlin: He didn’t try to change all that much of Bill Cowher’s system. Also: “You see him getting involved with every position.’’

- Tomlin on Roethlisberger: “He’s a football junkie. I expect big things.’’