- The Washington Times - Saturday, November 22, 2008

From combined dispatches

As much as NFL teams are feeling a financial squeeze already, commissioner Roger Goodell fears the economic downturn really could hit the league in early 2009, when tickets for next season go on sale.

“There’s no secret on sponsorship, advertising, licensing - those numbers are going to be impacted by the current climate. We’re aware of that,” Goodell said in an interview with the Associated Press on Friday.

“We’re still, unfortunately, in the beginning stages of this. And most of our tickets are sold in the spring. And so ‘09 is going to be more of a barometer of how impactful the economic environment’s going to be on the NFL.”

Asked if individual clubs already were having problems, Goodell replied: “Sure. Absolutely. For [a variety of] factors: What’s happening to sponsorship. What’s happening to licensees. What’s happening to our ticket holders, club seat holders, suite holders. This affects all of us.”

BENGALS: Wide receiver Chad “Ocho Cinco” Johnson was back at work, a day after being sent home before the Pittsburgh game for disciplinary reasons.

Coach Marvin Lewis wanted to move on from the latest Bengals controversy and after the team fell to 1-9-1. The latest loss Thursday night against the Steelers was a 27-10 defeat in which the Bengals managed just 208 yards of offense.

Lewis said the punishment fit the violation, and declined to go into details of the incident. Johnson was late for a team meeting Wednesday night, and then had a verbal altercation with a coach or coaches.

“I think, yeah, anytime a player has a thing that occurs like that, you let your teammates down,” Lewis said. “I think anytime that you have to sit a player down, it sends a message to players, because that’s the only thing they understand.”

COWBOYS: The NFL confirmed that suspended cornerback Adam “Pacman” Jones can join Dallas on Monday and that he can play again Dec. 7 against Pittsburgh - but only if he stays on his best behavior.

Commissioner Roger Goodell issued a brief statement confirming the details of Jones’ return, noting that it can only happen “if he avoids any further incidents and fully complies with each and every condition that has been established for him.”

Those conditions were not outlined, although it’s believed that he must keep up with the aftercare of the alcohol rehabilitation program he completed since being suspended Oct. 14.

JETS: Rookie quarterback Erik Ainge was suspended four games by the NFL for violating the league’s policy on steroids and related substances.

Ainge, already on injured reserve and out for the season with a foot injury, is not allowed to be with the team or at its facility during the suspension. He’ll be eligible to rejoin the team Dec. 15, following the Jets’ game against Buffalo.

Also, linebacker David Harris and safety Eric Smith will both miss their fourth straight game after they were ruled out for the team’s matchup at undefeated Tennessee because of injuries.

Harris reportedly had surgery on his groin earlier this month after he was injured in the second quarter of the Jets’ 28-24 victory over Kansas City on Oct. 26.

Like Harris, Smith hasn’t played or practiced since suffering his third head injury in a four-game span.

TITANS: Tennessee is short-handed at cornerback heading into Sunday’s game with the New York Jets.

The Titans were already without Eric King, who broke his forearm last week against Jacksonville, and will be without Reynaldo Hill and perhaps starter Nick Harper this week.

Hill is recovering from a hip injury, and Harper is listed as doubtful with a foot injury.

BEARS: Receiver Marty Booker will miss the game at St. Louis on Sunday because of a knee injury.

In his second stint with Chicago after spending the past four seasons with Miami, Booker has just 11 receptions for 183 yards and two touchdowns and has not caught a pass the past three games. His last reception was against Minnesota on Oct. 19.

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