The Bengals open shop for another season in two weeks and the debate raging around town and around the country centers on Marvin Lewis.
It must be time for training camp because the burning question is whether or not Marvin Lewis is on the proverbial "hot seat." As an aside, exactly what is a "hot seat"? Is that a device chiropractors use to treat lower back pain. Have you ever been employed by someone who isn't enamored with your work and actually put a blowtorch under your chair?
Here are some facts about the Marvelous One who's called Cincinnati home since 2003. He's coached more wins than anyone in Bengals history. He's won more division titles and been to more playoff games than any Bengals coach in history. He's coached more NFL games than any coach in Bengals history. And he's 0-7 in playoff games.
That is Marvin Lewis in less than 30 seconds.
Marvin Lewis isn't exactly beloved in Cincinnati, as much as tolerated. I blame it on selective amnesia. Some people forget because they suffer from a horrific disease. Some people forget because they choose to. So many around here, when it comes to Lewis, choose to forget.
And now, a little history lesson.
Most of you aren't old enough to remember Bill Johnson and his 18-15 record in a little over two and a half seasons. That actually looks pretty good in the history of Bengals coaches.
Johnson's curse was being the guy that Paul Brown selected as his successor, rather than Bill Walsh. Johnson was followed by Homer Rice, a nice man who was overwhelmed by the job. Forrest Gregg was a meteor -- here and gone in four seasons and leading the team to the Super Bowl after his first. Sam Wyche was the pied piper, and a great coach, a greater person. The next three coaches combined to win 42 games in 11 seasons.
Then along came Marvin.
He took on the usual baggage any Bengals coach does. He was made to inherit assistant coaches, some of whom had worn out their welcome years earlier. He had to defer to the Brown family when it came to important matters, like you know, who to draft in round one. He weathered it, and he won. Four division titles, playoffs in seven of his 14 seasons. That's where that 0-7 record comes into play.
Getting there used to be everything to most Bengals fans. Not anymore. Give us a taste, we want the meal. It's human nature.
Truth be told, Marvin Lewis can be infuriating. Through our own doing, nobody feels sorry for the media these days. Lewis' treatment of the local media vacillates between tolerance and disdain. His in-game management is as baffling as his play calling at times. And Lewis seems to believe that there is somewhere you can cash in time outs if you take enough of them into the locker room.
While he doesn't suffer fools all that well in the media, he seems to do just fine with those who play for him.
Can anyone forget the "TOchocino Show" or all that nonsense from the "Batman and Robin" season? How about Sam Adams or Laveranues Coles? Anyone up for a little more Reggie McNeal? Keith Rivers, what a talent.
But here's what Marvin Lewis has done more often than not from September-January: win.
Judge him if you want on what has happened to his teams in the post-season. But before you cut and run, remember what it was like before he arrived. Lewis has brought the Bengals from B.C. to the 20th century. No one saw that coming before he got here.
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And now an anniversary. Forty-three years ago today, this song went to #No. 1 in the U.S. It is widely regarded as the first disco song to top the charts.
My favorite part of this video is watching George McRae trying to figure out what to do during the 25-second lead up to his vocals. He looks remarkably uncomfortable.
The song was written by Harry Wayne Casey and Richard Finch, who would go on to form the band KC and the Sunshine Band. Casey was "KC." Finch, who did time in an Ohio prison, played bass guitar and wrote most of the band's big hits with Casey.
It was also one of the first songs to use an electronic drum machine and not an actual drummer. He McCrae got this song is a story in and of itself. He was a struggling session singer, someone who sang background vocals on other stars' work and who cut demos of songs that other artists could hear and determine whether or not they would record it. McCrae was friends with Casey, who offered the song to McCrae because it didn't fit his vocal range.
Originally, Casey and Finch were the only two who played on the music track. They then brought in the Sunshine Band's guitarist, Jerome Smith and had him lay down a guitar track.
By the way, Finch and Casey cashed in big on this song. They each made more than a quarter of a million dollars in their first royalty checks.