At the Cincinnati Bengals’ annual pre-training camp luncheon it’s all supposed to be about hope and optimism and the tradition of serving mock turtle soup. On the eve of the franchise’s 50th anniversary season, however, Bob Costas had to go and spit on the food.
“Bob Costas is a respected media guy,” said owner Mike Brown during his round of interviews on Tuesday at Paul Brown Stadium. “Syracuse hasn’t turned out many better. I respect him myself, but it doesn’t mean he’s always right. I think he swung and missed on this one.”
The whiff (in Brown’s opinion) came when the NBC broadcaster picked an old Bengals’ scab. During a Sunday appearance on CNN, Costas referenced the NFL’s announcement of a one-game suspension for cornerback Adam Jones for an offseason arrest after a run-in with police.
“He’s got a rap sheet a mile long,” Costas said of Jones, “and collects millions of dollars for the Cincinnati Bengals, who at various times seem to be running a halfway house for miscreants.”
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.
Sportscaster Bob Costas on Adam Jones and the Bengals
So no sooner had WCPO sports director John Popovich asked Marvin Lewis on Tuesday about the “shot” taken by Costas, the Bengals’ coach jumped the route and intercepted the question.
“You named it right there, you don’t have to go any further,” Lewis said with a smile. “Uneducated, unproven. So stop it right there.”
Brown’s rebuttal was a bit more expansive.
“Over the last four years, we are in the bottom quartile of the league for suspended players. That’s at the low end,” said the owner. “There are teams that have had three or four times as many suspended players as we have had. Yet I regret every one that went wrong here. I feel responsibility for it.
“Do I think we have a locker room with the James boys, Pretty Boy Floyd and John Dillinger? I don’t. I’m not Ma Barker. I really think he would have been better to look into this one a little bit more.”
Do I think we have a locker room with the James boys, Pretty Boy Floyd and John Dillinger? I don’t. I’m not Ma Barker.
Bengals owner Mike Brown
The 81-year-old Brown might be showing his age with his criminal references, but his critics would cite a much more recent example. What about the Bengals’ drafting of Oklahoma running back Joe Mixon?
An undeniable first-round talent, Mixon wasn’t even invited to the NFL Scouting Combine and subsequently slipped down draft boards thanks to an October 2014 charge of misdemeanor assault for punching a woman in the face, causing broken bones. A surveillance video confirmed the punch and sparked further outrage.
Yet after extensive due diligence, the Bengals decided Mixon was worth the risk and the publicity hit.
“I thought it was a worthwhile chance for us. He’s a good player in my mind,” Brown said. “When we did it, we weren’t naive. We knew we’d read about it and we have. That’s something you have to work through. I like to think we have worked through it and he will now step up and carry his part of the deal, prove out on the field and maybe a few years from now all this questioning will have been put aside.”
I like to think we have worked through it and he will now step up and carry his part of the deal, prove out on the field and maybe a few years from now all this questioning will have been put aside.
Bengals owner Mike Brown on Joe Mixon
After last year’s 6-9-1 record snapped a streak of five straight playoff appearances — without a win, by the way — perhaps the Bengals were more willing to roll the dice on personal conduct. They would deny that, of course. Then again, Lewis is in the final year of his contract and faces several challenges in turning matters back around.
Veteran starting offensive tackle and team leader Andrew Whitworth signed with the Los Angeles Rams. Starting offensive guard Kevin Zeitler jumped to the Cleveland Browns. Running back Giovani Bernard (ACL), tight end Tyler Eifert (back) and rookie wideout John Ross (labrum) are coming off surgeries. The defense, 21st against the run last year, is showing some age.
Said Lewis, “I’m anxious to get back and get started.”
Cincinnati Bengals 2017 schedule
Tampa Bay (exhibition)
Kansas City (exhibition)