COLUMN: You could diss the 'old' Andy Dalton, but you can't diss him now

Dalton called JJ Watt out for "Red BB Gun" comment
Posted at 2:06 PM, Nov 17, 2015
and last updated 2016-06-12 11:39:53-04

CINCINNATI -- Arguably, Andy Dalton took it laying down when he was booed at the MLB All-Star celebrity softball game this summer.

Sadly, this wasn't even his first time being booed off the field -- the NFL Pro Bowl in January sort of set the standard.

The sea of boos drew gasps from SportsCenter and Sports Illustrated in July, but no one called out the hometown crowd for hating on their quarterback.

"He can't win playoff games."

"He's not worth the millions he's getting."

"Let McCarron start."


No one could argue their points at the time, so no one did.

But then the Bengals won a game. And then they won another game. When they beat the Seahawks, people really took notice.

The chronology can be argued either way -- å la the chicken or the egg -- but something happened. The Bengals were different; they were winning. Dalton was different, and Cincinnati loved him.


@andydalton14 STRENGTH!!! NO WEAKNESS !!

A video posted by Mohamed Sanu Sr. (@mohamedsanu) on

As the Bengals kept winning, taking their record to an unprecedented height, fans began looking at the team's leader in a new light.

Never-before cited statistics started popping up in Bengals conversations -- on the radio, sports shows and hanging out in sports bars.

"Andy Dalton started his rookie year."

"Yeah, and in his fourth playing in the NFL his stats put Peyton Manning's to shame. He's basically identical to Tom Brady."

"He's putting up numbers against the best defenses in the league."

The most frequently made observation: Andy Dalton is a new man. And many people attributed that to the All-Star game booing. Was it a wakeup call? Or did those haters become his motivators?

Heck, even his style and his haircut got a reboot.

Clearly, Dalton is no longer the scapegoat for Bengals' shortcomings; many fans -- not to mention the league -- are crediting him with a historic first half of this Bengals season, followed by Super Bowl whisperings.

So when "new Andy Dalton" was openly dissed by Texans stud/brute J.J. Watt, the quarterback and his fans didn't cower and take it.

After the Monday Night Football game, Watt said "Our goal was to make the Red Rifle look like the Red Ryder BB Gun."

Dalton -- that is, the "new" Dalton -- didn't let Watt have the last word.

"I’m disappointed in him,” Dalton said. “A lot kids and a lot people who look up to him. For him to make comments like that, (it says) it’s acceptable to do stuff like that. It’s disappointing for one of the best players in this league to come out and say something like that.

"It just shows what he's about."

And the fans? Possibly the same fans who booed Dalton in July? They had some words for Watt, too.

Sure, some fans may have booed during parts of the game -- particularly after the seemingly endless penalties that plagued the Bengals.

But "new" Dalton had an opinion on that, too.

"That's part of it," he said. "The biggest thing for this city is we’ve done a lot good things. There were some boos, which is part to it. That’s fine."

Translation: We rocked it and haters gonna hate.

Among the many lessons that can be learned from the Bengals' first loss of the season, one thing was made crystal clear: Andy Dalton is a new man, and he's not taking s*** from no one.