CINCINNATI -- Bengals owner Mike Brown and coach Marvin Lewis are rejecting Bob Costas's characterization of their team as "a halfway house for miscreants."
"Bob Costas is a respected media guy … I respect him myself. That doesn’t mean he’s always right. I think he swung and missed on this one," Brown said at the Bengals' pre-season media luncheon Tuesday.
"Over the last four years, we are in the bottom quartile for suspended players. That’s at the low end. There are teams that have had three or four times as many suspended players. Yet I regret everyone. I feel responsibility for it.”
Lewis dismissed the criticism out of hand.
"Uneducated, unproven, so you can stop it right there," Lewis said to WCPO's John Popovich. "Those people have enough people to research things. They don’t have to make unfounded statements. It’s unfortunate that he did."
There would have been no disputing Costas's statement in the previous decade when the Bengals and Vikings tied for most arrests and citations in the NFL - 38 - between 2000 and 2009, according to a USA Today database.
However, even with Adam "Pacman" Jones, the Bengals' numbers have come way down since 2010 with nine players arrested a total of 14 times. Jones has accounted for four arrests in those seven years and Rey Maualuga and Cedric Benson two each.
Costas, one of the highest-profile sports broadcasters in nearly four decades with NBC, criticized the Bengals two days after the NFL suspended Jones for the season opener.
"Domestic abusers, people guilty of various forms of misbehavior, find their way on NFL rosters," Costas said in questioning why no team has signed Colin Kaepernick. "Pacman Jones was just suspended again, for a single game for a run-in with police several months ago. He’s got a rap sheet a mile long, and collects millions of dollars for the Cincinnati Bengals, who at various times seem to be running a halfway house for miscreants."
In fact, Jones leads active NFL players with 10 arrests since he entered the league in 2005 with Tennessee. The NFL has suspended Jones three times over the years - including the entire 2007 season.
Costas didn't mention Joe Mixon, the Bengals' second-round pick in last April's draft. Mixon punched a woman in the face three years ago, and most NFL teams backed away from drafting him. The Bengals took Mixon with the 48th pick.
Brown has publicly defended Jones and Mixon and did so again Tuesday.