WATCH: Marvin Lewis responds to Mercedes Sands allegations

CINCINNATI, OH (FOX19) - Just days after The New York Times released a story about domestic violence in the NFL, Head Coach Marvin Lewis addressed local media about allegations made by the ex-wife of former Bengals player Robert Sands.

"I think it's more of a publicity thing, and try to brush it under the rug, like, 'Okay. Let's protect these people. We have to protect our men. This is how we make money.' But, it's bigger than that," said Mercedes Sands on Tuesday in an interview with ESPN 1530 in Cincinnati.

Mercedes Sands told The Times that she felt trapped in her relationship with Robert because of the close-knit culture of the NFL.

"They told us, "Come to us first." Basically keeping things in-house. That put me more at fear where I'm like, 'Okay. So, don't call the police, call you,'" Sands said on the radio.

[RELATED: Ex-wife of former Bengals player speaks out; says she felt trapped in abusive relationship]

"It was better to endure indignities like infidelity, other wives told them, and to keep quiet even if the hostility in their marriages seemed unbearable than to cause a ruckus that could upend the success and harmony of the team," the article read.

But Lewis has a different story regarding what happened.

"Mercedes doesn't have a very good memory of things," Lewis said in a press conference Wednesday. "We did a lot to try to help the Sands."

"Anything else that really matters?" he asked the crowd of reporters, trying to get back to talking about the upcoming game.

When reporters questioned him about how the team deals with domestic violence issues, he said "it's not my protocol so I don't have to deal with it."

"We did a lot to try to help the Sands. It's part of growing up. You had two young kids who didn't really have a good feel for what life is, and so forth. Their relationship was very tumultuous. I think she's kind of remembering things one-sided," said Lewis.

Lewis added that authorities were called to handle the situation.

"I'm not going to answer any more questions. It's done. Anything else that really matters," Lewis said to reporters after answering one question about the New York Times story.

"The police were called and contacted before anything ever that point," Lewis said. "I don't know where her rationale comes from that. What they were asked to do is work on their relationship."

He said that the couple was instructed to work on their relationship by going to counseling but they missed several appointments.

"From Mercedes standpoint, she ought to be more truthful in what she's talking about," he said.

"They're going to protect everything that they have to protect. But, they're not understanding that it's not a 'me against you.' It's about what's right and what's wrong," Sands said.

The Bengals issued this statement Tuesday:

The Cincinnati Bengals offer support to the Club's players and staff with counseling and related support when they face issues in their personal lives. This support extends to spouses and significant others. Neither the Club nor Coach Lewis advised the Sands not to talk to law enforcement; instead, the Club encouraged them to work on their problems and to utilize counseling to improve their relationship. Unfortunately, the Sands did not take full advantage of the services available to them, and they missed various counseling sessions.

The notion that Mrs. Sands was advised not to talk to police lacks credibility. Law enforcement had already been involved with the Sands' situation.

The Bengals' decision to release Robert Sands was based upon his overall performance.

Watch the video above for the entire interview. Mobile users watch here:


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