Sunday, March 09, 2008

There is a lot that will be written in the coming days about the trip to Kentucky, in what I can only describe as the worst trip in years.

But driving along with my friend Jason Aldrich from Tiffin to Danville had one period that stood out -- the drive through and around Cincinnati.

It was there that I first heard that Bengals' player Chad Johnson threw a punch at coach Marvin Lewis at halftime of a playoff game in 2006.

Apparently, this rumor has been floating around since the Divisional Playoff loss to the Steelers. Not living in Cincinnati, I had never heard of it.

But the story broke thanks to Cleveland Brown Shaun Smith, who played for Cincinnati at the time. Apparently, Smith was addressing a Browns Backers gathering in Maryland (Browns fans are everywhere), and was asked what happened in the game against the Steelers.

Smith matter-of-factly said the rumors of Johnson swinging at Marvin Lewis (and receivers coach Hue Jackson, now with the Ravens) were true.

Not surprisingly, this was huge news over in the Queen City, where talk show hosts talked about little else (except the weather, of course) for two days.

I was surprised the story didn't gain more traction nationally, since the idea of a player-head coach altercation would be big news. Then again,

- Maybe reporters don't believe Smith,


- Since it happened more than two years ago, it's old news.

Cincinnati hosts pointed out that (at least as of Saturday), the Bengals didn't deny the altercation or Smith's version of events, only saying "no comment," which, in journalism talk, is often code for "it's true, but I'll be damned if I get pinned for it."

As for me, I tend to believe Smith's account, if only because if you listen to the recording, his tone is relaxed. He didn't try to fire up the fans or make them laugh. He just answered the question, in the same way as if someone asked him what he had for dinner the night before.

Still, I don't know for sure. Only Bengals players and coaches know, and to this point, only Smith has talked.

But if it is true, I'm shocked Lewis wouldn't have told Johnson to take off his uniform, then have security escort him from the building. I won't rip Lewis at this point, because if it didn't happen, he has nothing to defend.

But if it is true, maybe it explains why the Bengals have so many off-the-field issues. There may be no one to answer to.



At 1:17 PM , Anonymous Erik said...

Given the fact that the Bengals will invariably make the wrong decision every time they are posed with more than one option, I fully expect them to let T.J. Houshmandzadeh walk when he becomes a free agent, while committing big bucks to Chad Johnson.

If I were Browns management, I would stand by to vacuum up all the talented free agents the Bengals will let walk.

The Bengals lucked into their 11-5 division title season in '05. They will never amount to anything so long as cheap Mike Brown owns the team. If it weren't for Al Davis, he'd be the worst owner in the league.


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