AFC North teams did a nice job overall in this year’s draft. Most teams addressed their main needs and picked up late round steals that very well could contribute next season. Here’s my breakdown of each team’s strongest picks as well as a final overall grade for their draft selections.
Politicians love to lend their support to organizations that make people happy. Our country's leaders and those in our own community often take time out of their busy leader schedules to cut ribbons, shake hands, rename streets in honor of individuals and generally grub on the pride we have for those among us who succeed.
Let us recall Mayor Mallory's Opening Day wild pitch or his steadfast support of the Bengals during a meaningless late season game against the Steelers. It is good for a sports team to be recognized by the community, especially a college program that needs an increase in attendance and some private donor help in order to reach the level that will allow it to succeed regularly. But it’s kind of awkward when the politicians come out and try to be a part of the celebration. Remember when City Council invited UC Coach Brian Kelly down to council chambers for some official recognition, only to make him wait around for 45 minutes and almost miss practice?
The story of Chris Henry had only recently become one of redemption. The oft-troubled wide receiver had by all accounts taken advantage of his last chance at a successful NFL career and become a responsible individual off the field. Henry died this morning due to injuries suffered during a car accident yesterday.
The details of the accident that resulted in the 26-year-old’s death are still being determined, but initial reports of a “domestic situation” make one believe that all was not as well in Henry’s private life as was displayed in a recent Enquirer story about Chris Henry the family man. Read the story of Henry’s renewed dedication to family here.
Upon hearing that the Eagles signed Michael Vick, I thought a few different things. Then I tried to put a filter on those thoughts, since I’m a Giants fan and might just think things because I've never liked the Eagles and never will.
Despite this, Donovan McNabb is one of those Derek Jeter types: a solid leader both off and on the field who still seems to be as much of a student of the game as he was during his first few years in the league. Even though you may hate the team he plays for, it is done begrudgingly because you know that the McNabbs and Jeters are the best of the best.
A new book set for release Tuesday called League of Denial: The NFL, Concussions and the Battle for Truth is set to challenge the NFL and their denial of a connection between concussions and football.
Written by Mark Fainaru-Wada and Steve Fainaru, investigative reporters for ESPN, the book claims the NFL has not only known about the connection between concussions in the NFL and long-term brain injuries for about 20 years, but the league has been actively trying to cover up these facts.
The suicides of Junior Seau as well as former NFL players such as the Bears’ David Duerson and the Eagles’ Andre Waters have brought this issue to the forefront of players’ and fans’ minds. All three players are thought to have suffered severe brain damage from injuries while playing football, all of which lead to their unfortunate suicides.
The NFL has claimed for years they had no knowledge of any relation between the brain injuries sustained from concussions and the deaths of professional players. Even in the face of a recent lawsuit from players, the league held firm to their stance.
The league did settle the recent lawsuit out of court for $765 million, and many questions were raised asking if the league has been honest with how much they know about the possible link between concussions and football.
For a long time, concussions in the professional level of football were not seen as a big issue because no one knew of the long-term effects. Former New York Jets defensive lineman Marty Lyons talked with Rich Cimini of ESPNNewYork.com where he described his own sideline concussion experience.
Lyons said whenever a player would come off the field, the physician would hold up some fingers, ask how many and, despite the player’s answer, the physician said, “Close enough.” A couple plays later, or even the next play, the player would find themselves on the field once again.
“That wasn’t the doctors or trainers saying, ‘You’re OK,’” Lyons said in the interview. “I’m not saying the league didn’t know, I’m not saying the players didn’t know. It was part of the game.”
According to the authors of League of Denial, the cover-up of how much the NFL knew about the connection started when the former NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue created a concussion committee in 1994 to better understand the effects of concussions on players. A few members of the committee came forward in 1995 saying concussions were not “minor injuries” as previously thought. These claims were quickly hushed by the NFL.
Another claim the book makes is that around 2000, some of the country’s top neuroscientists told the NFL the big hits in football, especially those considered head-to-head, led to not only concussions, but also what is known as chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE).
Some of the symptoms of CTE are higher rates of depression, dementia, memory loss and brain damage.
The NFL, rather than publishing these findings and telling players of the potential harm, made no such effort and tried to ignore the facts.
Then in 2005, the authors report the NFL tried to persuade a medical journal to retract articles and findings on concussions and their effects on individuals. The journal in question refused and the findings continued to circulate without interference.
The authors spoke with Dr. Ann McKee, a former assistant professor of neuropathology at Harvard Medical School and one of the leading professionals on the link between football and brain damage, who said of the 54 harvested brains of deceased NFL players, only two did not have CTE.
However, all of these findings are not just exclusive to professional football. Youth, high school and college football players are also at a high risk for concussions.
A report from 2007 titled “Concussions Among United States High School and Collegiate Athletes,” found that about 300,000 people aged 15 to 24 suffered traumatic brain injuries every year from contact sports. This number is only second to brain injuries sustained from motor vehicle accidents.
This same study also found of the total number of concussions from other collegiate sports, including boys’ and girls’ soccer and basketball, football was responsible for more than 40 percent of the concussions.
Concussions in high school sports have even led to the death of young athletes. Jaquan Waller and Matthew Gfeller are two football players who died in North Carolina after head injuries sustained during high school games this season.
A study from the University of Pittsburgh found that over the past decade, 30-40 high school football players have died from concussions, and the likelihood of contact sport athletes to receive a concussion is 19 percent.
Changes are coming to the NFL, however, most notably in the minds of players. Bengals’ cornerback Brandon Ghee received two concussions in back-to-back preseason games against the Falcons and Titans. Ghee was forced to take a five-week break from contact because of these injuries.
In an interview with The Enquirer, Ghee said if it weren’t for the recent deaths and lawsuit, he would have wanted to go back to play immediately. Now though, he’s not so sure. “After the second one you have to think about your kids and family,” Ghee said in the interview. “You don’t want any long-lasting issues.”
Mayor Mark Mallory says there is no room for debate over whether or not Cincinnatians should keep supporting the Bengals. He's going to hang out before Sunday's game against Pittsburgh and grill food and act like he's one of us. The concept got Mr. Mayor laughed at by reporters at his weekly news conference yesterday. And what's worse, it wasn't even sports reporters who were laughing at him — it was the regular city dork reporters!
It's pretty bad when a team is 0-6 and its fans are again selling their tickets for below market value like it's 2001 and Akili Smith is the starting quarterback. The Bengals' brief brush with respectability is long gone now, as evidenced by the very small amount of football knowledge one must have in order to make the following positive assumption: The Bengals fucking suck.
It's really quite hilarious how badly the organization has messed up an opportunity to draft quality linemen around their talented skill players who led the team to its only playoff appearance in the last 15 years. But this is a discussion (or a joke) for another day. Why should we even bother?
That's why it's nice for Mayor Mallory to step in and give us something else to laugh about. On Sunday Paul Brown Stadium will be at lest half-filled with Pittsburgh fans, and it's because their organization, team and city is better than ours. Mallory showing up to tailgate is just another embarrassing footnote in the story of Cincinnati sports history.
I'm sorry to do it, but I must quote a good friend whose self-hate reached an all-time high after the Bengals missed numerous kicks that would have sent them to the playoffs during the final week of 2006: "We're all just a bunch of fucking losers."
Good work Mallory. Now you're included.
The Cincinnati Bengals suffered one of the worst losses in franchise history yesterday, a 49-31 home defeat to the team tied for the NFL's worst record at the time, the Buffalo Bills. The Bengals led 31-14 at halftime and were outscored 35-0 in the second half.
The Bengals sit at 2-8 on the 2010 season and (with Buffalo) own the worst record in the AFC.
The Minnesota Viking suffered one of their worst home losses in franchise history yesterday, losing 31-3 to the Green Bay Packers. This morning the Vikings fired their head coach, Brad Childress.
After a couple of days of suspense, the Bengals anticlimactically announced today that Marvin Lewis is coming back for two more years as head coach.
I was going to craft a long, acerbic essay about the dysfunctional nature of Mike Brown’s dad Paul Brown’s once-proud franchise, but then I just became depressed and walked over to Sunshine Foods — a longtime CityBeat employee lunch stop staple — and splurged on a Italian sausage hoagie with pizza sauce and pickles.
The destruction of the Jets two weeks ago by the Bengals saw not only the largest margin of victory for our football team in many years, but also the emergence of second-year wide receiver Marvin Jones.
The Bengals brought Jones aboard in 2012, but not until the fifth round of the draft — much to Jones' disappointment. He assumed he was going to be drafted in the second round, and many scouts agreed, also thinking he would go in the second or third round. Looking at his college stats, it’s easy to see why.
Jones played at University of California, Berkeley, and scored 13 touchdowns throughout his four seasons with the team.
As a wide-receiver, he averaged 14.6 yards with the team with 156 receptions for a total of 2,270 yards. This includes a freshmen year when Jones only made one reception for eight yards.
With these stats, it’s no wonder he was predicted for the second round.
In his rookie season with the Bengals, though, Jones didn’t see much play time. He started in five of 11 games, but this season Jones has exploded on the scene.
When the Bengals and Jets played on Oct. 27, Jones set a franchise record of four touchdowns in a single game, with a total of 122 receiving yards.
If the Bengals had not called off the hounds with 17 minutes left in the game, it is safe to say Jones very well could have tied the record for receiving touchdowns in one game.
This record is currently held by Hall of Fame players Kellen Winslow and Jerry Rice, as well as Bob Shaw, all of whom scored five receiving touchdowns in one game.
One comparison we can draw from Jones to an active NFL wide-receiver is the Broncos’ Wes Welker.
Welker, who gained mass popularity as one of Tom Brady’s favorite targets for the Patriots, sports impressive stats with close to 10,000 career receiving yards in regular season play.
As an established receiver, Welker currently holds the most red zone touchdowns for this season at eight, followed closely by Jones’ seven in the red zone.
What really made this possible for Jones was not only his superb skill set and hands these past few weeks, but also quarterback Andy Dalton’s trust in his many receivers.
Dalton has not played favorites with receivers since the loss against the Browns where he threw the ball to A.J. Green 15 times.
Jones, in an interview with Coley Harvey for ESPN.com, said Dalton is spending extra time in film and practice with the other receivers, making the relationship between the QB and his many targets stronger than ever.
With the second half of the regular season upon us, this level of cooperation in the backfield will be vital, and if Jones’ professional career is anything like his college career, we can expect him to continue to grow and improve alongside the team.