OK, maybe we were wrong.
Last December, as both the Bengals and Bearcats were riding high via uncommonly strong seasons, Danny Cross and I wrote cover-story essays about why each team's success wouldn't be just a one-year anomaly. I took the Bengals, he took the ’Cats.
Flash forward 11 months: The Bengals have lost six straight games to fall to 2-7, and the Bearcats are coming off a 37-10 shellacking at West Virginia that dropped their record to 3-6, making a bowl game appearance unlikely.
So what happened?
I flipped through the latest issue of The Sporting News during a stop at Fountain News (far and away the best source for magazines and newspapers downtown) yesterday. A few locally related mentions caught my eye:
1. Reds General Manager Walt Jocketty was named SN’s 2010 MLB Executive of the Year by a group of 24 peers. Jocketty tells SN that the biggest challenge was to instill a “culture of winning” into a franchise that hadn’t delivered a winning season in a decade.
The Cincinnai Bengals are back at it again with their recent signing of troubled cornerback Adam “Pacman” Jones. Jones agreed to a two-year deal with the club on Thursday, making the Bengals his third team in his short and troubled NFL career.
Thankfully, the Bengals made sure to include language in the contract to protect themselves in case Jones decides to get into any off the field trouble. Tom Hunter, Jones' agent, told The Associated Press on Thursday night that the deal would be signed on either Friday or Monday.
Jones, who did not play during the 2009 season, was suspended for six games in 2008 while playing for the Dallas Cowboys and was suspended the entire 2007 season, both due to his off the field issues that violated the league’s player conduct policy.
The Bengals may have added Jones in hopes that he will add depth to the cornerback position while possibly showing flashes of his Tennessee Titans days. Jones is a gifted athlete and is only 26, although it has yet to be seen if he can keep a level head off the field and clean up his act.
The Bengals feature one of the better cornerback duos in the league in Leon Hall and Johnathan Joseph. Coming off the bench are two young and gifted prospects in Morgan Trent and this year’s third round pick from Wake Forest, Brandon Ghee. Jones will be hard pressed to make the team, especially if there are any doubts that he will be a distraction come training camp.
This signing comes to no surprise due to the Bengals’ recent history of troubled stars and giving players multiple chances. At the same time, I highly doubt that anyone expected Adam Jones to end up on this squad. I question why the front office would go out and bring in another distraction of this magnitude. With the recent success and big outlook on this upcoming season, the Bengals don’t need to take any risks. Then again, if bringing in Matt Jones after a cocaine possession charge wasn’t enough excitement for Bengals fans, this just might be the icing on the cake. Let’s just hope that Marvin Lewis can control this bunch for one more year.
I attended my first Cincinnati Commandos game at the Cincinnati Gardens Arena on April 24. The Commandos were host to the Miami Valley Silverbacks. To say the least, my first professional indoor football game was a very satisfying one. The nail-biting 58-50 win gave the undefeated Commandos their fifth straight win, leaving them in first place. Afterwards, I took a look back at my overall experience and made a brief list of the five main reasons to make it down to the Cincinnati Gardens and root on the Commandos.
1. Intense sideline action
You definitely won't find yourself anywhere near this close at your local Bengals or UC Bearcats football game. While at a Commandos game you will experience the excitement and up-close action of indoor football like you would never imagine. Fans can enjoy the action as close to the sidelines as they please, high fiving with the home team after every big play. Just make sure you keep your head on a swivel because the action can come your way at anytime. Hold those nachos tight!
2. $1 hot dogs and beers
Tell me where else you can not only receive two classics for this extremely low price but enjoy a game of hard-nosed football as well? Believe it or not this deal runs during all Commandos home games. What better way to enjoy a man’s game than to wash down your $1 hot dog with an equally cheap $1 brew.
3. Commando Cuties
If the game wasn't enough, the Commando Cuties are one addition that will bring any fan back to the Cincinnati Gardens. One of the better half-time shows you will see in quite sometime, this is one dance team that will keep you on the edge of your seat all four quarters. Their halftime show will definitely be the first subject mentioned during the essential car-ride home chatter. Did I mention that they come into the stands from time to time? Speechless.
4. Check out your UC favorites
What better way for a true Bearcats fan to watch his or her favorite players create havoc on the field once more. The Commandos roster includes several former UC stars that have moved on from Nippert Stadium to the indoor gridiron for Cincinnati's indoor home team. The starting lineup consists of recent UC stars quarterback Ben Mauk, receiver Dominick Goodman and defensive end Terrill Byrd. The three are now heading towards their second undefeated season in a row, yet with a new hometown team.
5. Player and fan camaraderie
During no other sporting event in Cincinnati will you find a team that holds such a close relationship with its fans. Commandos Players toss balls to young fans, high five into the crowd and even come out and sign autographs after the game. The overall emotion and level of excitement from the hometown faithful is felt for an entire four quarters of Commandos football. From the moment you walk into the Cincinnati Gardens, you can sense right away that these fans love their team. The Commandos and their fans truly have a unique bond within the walls of the Cincinnati Gardens.
The NBA Finals might be weeks away, but a rematch of last year’s NBA semifinals matches familiar faces. Here are four things to ponder during the Celtics-Cavs series before — presumably — one team continues its advancement to the Finals.
Celtics vs. LeBron James
The most current concern in the city of Cleveland is if the elbow of reigning MVP LeBron James will be ready to go on Saturday night for Game 1. His elbow was tweaked as he came down on it after contesting the layup of Bulls point guard Derrick Rose. Thus far, LeBron says that he will be ready to go Saturday and is for the most part 100 percent. LeBron has had great person success this season and in the past against the Celtics. In four regular-season games this year, he averaged 36.5 points, 8.3 assists and 6.5 rebounds. This may be James' year to win it all as he is not only coming off one of his better statistical regular seasons, but has the players around him to take on anything the rest of the NBA decides to bring his way.
Cleveland’s new starting lineup and depth off the bench
The 2010 Cavaliers have been completely upgraded from the 2008 team that was defeated in the Eastern Conference Championship by the Celtics. Not only does the starting lineup come with a completely new look, but the firepower that the Cavs produce off the bench is what makes this year’s team heavily favored to make a championship appearance. The starting lineup now features Moe Williams, Anthony Parker, Antwan Jamison and Shaquille O'neal. One of the most productive benches in basketball includes Delonte West, Jamario Moon, Anderson Verejao and Zydrunas Illgauskas. The Cavs are twice improved over the 2008 team that the Celtics faced, while their depth off the bench gives them the firepower to play with any team they will face along the playoffs.
Cleveland holds home-court advantage as the No. 1 seed
This time two years ago when the two teams played, the Celtics had boasted the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference along with the claim to home-court advantage. 2010 is a different year as the Cavs hold home-court advantage throughout the entire playoffs. I’m sure the Cavs are more than happy to begin the Series in the "Q" rather than in the Celts "TD Gardens." This is one of the series’ more significant factors as the Cavaliers hold one of the NBA's best home records in the last two years.
Lack of production from Celtics bench
For what seems like the entire year, the Celtics have received no serious production from their bench players. To make matters worse, newly acquired Michael Finley and Nate Robinson have done nothing with the few minutes they've played this season. Proven veteran Rasheed Wallace, who was acquired with a large paycheck this summer, has struggled throughout the year to find his fit with the rest of the team. The "Big 3" (Ray Allen, Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett) are going to need a helping hand from their teammates if they don't plan on watching the rest of the playoffs from their couch throughout May and June.
Prediction: Cavs win 4 games to 1
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.
Get up-to-the-minute info on today's Opening Day festivities from our media partners at WCPO.com, including the latest weather forecast, traffic conditions, season preview and a poll asking what makes Opening Day so great.
Everyone’s heard of the “Madden Curse,” the seemingly inevitable downfall of any athlete who appears on the cover of EA Sports’ Madden-series video game. It’s the ultimate irony that the best player one season keeps having his next season ruined. How many years in a row can a new player be the best in the game?
CityBeat didn’t mean to contribute to the unfortunate weekend performances of the Bearcat and Bengal football teams when it put them on its Dec. 16 cover. All we were saying with our story, “Reversal of Fortune,” was that both teams’ great seasons meant even more success in the future. We didn’t mean to curse anyone. So we’re sorry if we did.
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.
You know what’s funny? If you put UC’s skill players behind the Cleveland Browns’ offensive line, I guarantee they would score more than 7 points against the Bengals. That might not mean much about how crappy Cleveland is, but it means a lot that a collegiate defense will have to try to stop the Bearcats’ offensive collection of future pros this coming weekend.
With UC’s win over Illinois last Friday — which, at 49-36, was actually not very close at all — the Bearcats are set up for a season finale against Pitt for the Big East Championship. It kind of sucks that Pitt has already lost two games (one in the conference) and they have nearly as much to play for as UC, but whatever. Pitt’s current 5-1 Big East record will hold up if it beats UC, since the Bearcats’ lone loss would be the tiebreaker. Still, Pitt’s 19-16 loss to West Virginia last Saturday proves that it's a very beatable team.