Henry Melton visits Vikings, gets sued by bar owner in Texas
By PATRICK FINLEY Staff Reporter March 13, 2014 10:00PM
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Updated: April 15, 2014 6:31AM
While defensive tackle Henry Melton makes his NFL tour — including a stop in Minnesota on Thursday — to test his market value, the Bears are waiting.
But not forever.
“Of course,” general manager Phil Emery said, “the clock is ticking.”
The Bears’ salary-cap situation today is not what it was at the start of free agency at 3 p.m. Tuesday — not after signing seven players, including two defensive linemen, this week.
Before then, too, they re-signed defensive tackles Jeremiah Ratliff and Nate Collins.
New Bears defensive end Lamarr Houston, a college teammate at Texas, has tried to persuade Melton to stay with the team that drafted him in 2009.
But depending on when Melton’s agent and the Bears talk again, the team’s salary cap might not have enough room for him.
Playing under an $8.45 million franchise tag last season, Melton tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee in Week 3. Suitors undoubtedly will need to feel comfortable with his medical reports.
His market value is unclear.
“I think he’s still got some teams to visit,” Emery said. “We’ve pretty much left it with [his agent] that he was going to go through this process, and when he got through it and had a pretty good idea of what his market is, we can talk at that time.”
News of a different sort swirled around Melton, dating to a Dec. 22 arrest in which he was charged with misdemeanor assault and public intoxication.
Melton is being sued by Donald Payne, the owner of Chill Restaurant and Bar in Melton’s hometown of Grapevine, Texas
The lawsuit claims Melton, wearing a Santa Claus hat, told bar employees he “was a millionaire and the bartenders were nothing but poor white trash.”
Surveillance video shows a bartender telling Melton to leave the bar.
When Payne approached Melton and told him to leave, Melton struck Payne with his fist, according to the lawsuit.
In the ensuing struggle, Melton lifted the owner off the ground and “severely bit Payne’s body” near the kidney, the lawsuit claimed.
It took a bartender, doorman and a licensed peace officer to restrain Melton and remove the 6-3, 295-pounder from the bar, according to the lawsuit.
The owner is suing Melton, 27, for more than $1 million, claiming assault and negligence, though a jury would dictate the final award in the case of conviction.
Melton’s agent, Jordan Woy, issued a statement to WFAA-TV in Dallas, hinting Melton would sue the bar.
“We have recently reviewed the lawsuit and do not believe the validity of the allegations made,” he wrote.
“We look forward to providing the true facts in court and will defend this matter vigorously.
“We will seek to hold the Chill and others accountable for any and all damages Henry has suffered at the hands of multiple men who attacked him.”
Emery was not aware of the lawsuit when asked about it.
A former bouncer, Emery was familiar with Melton’s December arrest. He was told of the incident the day it happened.
“That’s been an ongoing issue in terms of it coming to a conclusion,” Emery said. “And that’s all I can talk about it.
“In terms of evaluating Henry the player, that’s separate from that. . . .
“His on-the-field [performance] is one thing in terms of evaluation.
“The off-the-field is the other.
“But it is all part of it, but that’s a legal issue — and that’s all I need to say about that.”