Bob Costas is taking shots at the Bengals' criminal past and present, and USA Today has the local team winning just five games this season. Oh, and a premier college football publication has the Cincinnati Bearcats finishing dead last in their division. Ah, the smell of football is in the air.
After Costas accused the Bengals of "running a halfway house for miscreants" on a cable television show this past weekend, the Bengals responded with the usual fire back. My favorite was Mike Brown saying his locker room isn't overrun with the "James Boys," which means I guess Joe Walsh and his original band won't be playing any post-game concerts this season.
Costas played the easy game, and Brown is right. The NBC sports anchor was talking about the reluctance of NFL teams to sign Colin Kaepernick and used the Bengals as an example of a team that takes chances with problem players. He's right, of course. Brown is too. But the Bengals, like all of us, are the victims of our past. You can run from your past. You can hope others aren't consumed with what you've done before. But your past will always go a long way in defining who you are. That's probably not fair. But it is accurate. And we all know the Bengals, when it comes to employing problem players, have a wicked past.
But let's not confuse issues here. Yes, the Bengals have a checkered past. Yes, there have been quarterbacks employed by NFL teams this off-season that would seem less of a player than Colin Kaepernick. But Kaepernick comes with baggage. He is the player who felt compelled to kneel during the National Anthem last season. He was lauded by some and denounced by others. Pick your side. But NFL owners don't like to pick sides. Owners of any business usually pay lip service to diversity of opinion. Until, of course, it starts costing them dollars.
I don't know if Kaepernick can play effectively in the NFL anymore. I don't know if he wants to play in the NFL anymore. There are those who say he doesn't. But I do know the Bengals don't need another quarterback right now. The guy who backs up Andy Dalton could start for at least a half-dozens teams right now. And the guy who backs up A.J. McCarron and Jeff Driskell is pretty good, too.
Kaepernick would deliver everything every NFL owner and coach desperately tries to avoid: controversy.
Don't single out the Bengals here. Thirty-one other teams have taken a pass. Even with a different past, the Bengals would have done the same thing.
So this is creating a little bit of a stir. USA Today's excellent football reporter, Nate Davis, has the Bengals going 5-11 this season. Davis, who has predicted every single game for this upcoming season, cites the same concerns almost everyone who watches football has: The Bengals' offensive line looks porous.
No matter how much perimeter speed the Bengals have added, the game of football is based on line play. Mix in the loss of the two best Bengals linemen from last season, Andrew Whitworth and Kevin Zeitler, and therein lies the cause for concern.
Davis' prediction isn't all that crazy. He has the Bengals splitting division games with the Ravens and Browns and getting swept by the Steelers. Davis told me he doesn't necessarily attribute his skepticism to Marvin Lewis' lame duck status. He says it's more of a lack of monetary commitment the Bengals have shown to offensive linemen. Will he be correct in his prediction? I don't know, and neither does he.
It's a bit of a fool's game to make predictions on NFL outcomes this early in the year. It's close to impossible to be 100 percent correct week to week during the NFL season. My answer to the prediction questions is always the same: You tell me which players will be healthy in any given week, and I'll make a prediction. If Ben Roethlisberger is hurt for any amount of time, then the Steelers won't win 12 games. An NFL season almost always comes down to which team handles the effects of attrition better than the others.
Now for the rants of a lunatic, or perhaps some well-thought out concerns. That's your call.
The most recent Reds injury news couldn't highlight more how the Reds freeze when it comes to making trades.
On Wednesday, minor league infielder Dilson Herrera underwent season-ending shoulder surgery. He's had shoulder issues before and had them when the Reds traded Jay Bruce to the Mets and got Herrera in return. Tuesday night, shortstop Zack Cozart left the Reds game against the Yankees with a quad injury. Whether or not it proves to be a serious injury isn't the point. The trade deadline is less than a week away, and the Reds have misplaced the process again.
The point is, like Bruce, the Reds continually hold onto players far too long, past their prime return. Bruce should have been traded in the winter of 2015, and Cozart should have been dealt last winter. That would have given each of the receiving teams more time with the players they received. That, in return, would have netted the Reds better players in return. When you mix in the Reds' inability to get drafted players through their minor league system and to the Majors as productive players, is it any wonder why this rebuilding thing isn't going all that smoothly?
Adam Jones was tearful and grateful on Thursday. Speaking in the Bengals' locker room and publicly for the first time since the NFL handed down a suspension to Jones for his arrest and subsequent conduct for an incident in downtown Cincinnati last January, Jones said he will accept his one-game suspension and takes full responsibility for the actions of that night. The team has stuck by Jones through his latest ordeal. The Bengals cornerback expressed his gratitude to team owner, Mike Brown.
"The love that I have from Mr. Brown is undeniable. Words can't express how I feel about it. Words can't explain. I can't explain. I'm just ... there from my heart that I have someone that understands me as a person and is not quick to judge. So, that's always good ... that's all, see ya."
Jones made a quick exit after that to avoid crying in front of cameras.
Fans ask me all the time why Jones is on the team. The answer is a simple one. Brown has always viewed his role as team owner as something more than just signing checks. And the Bengals have no one better than Jones at the moment.
Big birthday coming up on Friday. Simon Kirke, one of the greatest drummers in rock 'n' roll history will turn 68. Kirke was in a group called Free, that had a big hit in the '60s with "Can't Get Enough Of Your Love." But he really made his mark when he helped form the group Bad Company.
Kirke and Paul Rodgers formed a band called Black Cat Bones, but quickly abandoned that to form Free. But in 1973, he and Rodgers teamed up with Mick Ralphs and Boz Burrell to form Bad Company. Ralphs was the guitarist in Mott The Hoople. Burrell was the bass player in King Crimson. Bad Company lasted until 1982, but has made a resurgence in recent years. Ralphs has stopped touring, due to a stroke. But Kirke, born 68 years ago Friday in London, England, is going strong as ever.