LAKE FOREST, Ill. (AP) – Chicago Bears defensive back Ricky Manning Jr. was suspended one game by the NFL on Wednesday for his role in a restaurant altercation and will not play this week at New England.

Manning, the Bears’ leader with four interceptions, pleaded no contest in September to a felony assault charge stemming from an altercation with a man in a Los Angeles restaurant. Manning acknowledged he argued with a man at a Denny’s near UCLA, where he attended college, in the early hours of April 23. He denied accusations that he and former Bruins Tyler Ebell and Maurice Drew punched and kicked the man in the face until he lost consciousness. Manning, who initially pleaded not guilty, faced up to four years in prison with a conviction. By pleading no contest, he got three years probation and was ordered to attend a year of anger management counseling. He was also ordered to complete 100 hours of community service. Jim Ivler, Manning’s agent, said his client was only “tangentially involved” in the incident, and league officials who reviewed video “were taken aback by the lack of involvement by Ricky.”

“It’s a somewhat bitter pill to swallow,” Ivler said.

Ivler said he and Manning considered appealing, but decided to sit out this week rather than risk missing a game against an NFC opponent that would have heavier playoff-seeding implications. Ivler said that was the Bears’ preference, but coach Lovie Smith said the decision was Manning’s.

“We knew it was coming,” Smith said. “We didn’t know exactly what it would be. Now we know and can move on from there.”

The incident occurred less than two days after Manning signed a five-year, $21 million offer sheet with Chicago.

The Carolina Panthers declined to match.

“It stinks,” Bears linebacker Brian Urlacher said. “I don’t know why they did it this week. That’s the NFL for you.”

AP-ES-11-22-06 1751EST

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