After the Bengals released two linebackers, a scenario developed when serious allegations were brought against Ahmad Brooks for punching a Kentucky woman in the left eye. Whether or not they're true, and it's likely the entire country has already made up their mind, it puts a serious spotlight, once again, on the Bengals. Thus becomes the catch-22 for the team. If you don't release Brooks immediately, the Bengals will harbor women beaters. Granted, the allegations still have to be proven, but until they are, it's the perception. If they do release Brooks immediately, and the allegations prove false, then the team loses out on Brooks potential -- then again, it's not like he's proven anything on the field except for a few sacks. Brooks' loss becomes Odell Thurman's gain.
With the team's attempt at zero tolerance, and Chancellor Roger Goodell coming down hard on players, I wouldn't suspect that Brooks will be around much longer. Changing your team's image and perception doesn't include keeping players on roster that have allegations of punching a woman in the face. And lord knows that the Bengals attempt at changing perceptions is becoming either a task too big to handle, or a front to ease public perception.
But likely, judgment from fans, media and general observers have already made up their mind because of the recent known history of Bengals players. Most people will simply blame Marvin Lewis for bringing in these types of characters. Perhaps justified. Though I've made the point in the past that there seems to be struggle with the Bengals finding the balance between winning (with players known to have character problems) and being a bunch of good guys (while the team struggles to win). It's not impossible, though the Bengals struggle still to find that balance.
If Brooks is suspended from the league -- we know that Goodell will suspend even though they haven't been arrested or charged with anything -- then that would open the door for Odell Thurman -- say it with me... if... he's... ready -- to play outside linebacker opposite Dhani Jones. Thurman will have to beat out Rashad Jeanty who's played the position for the past two years while Thurman was working construction in Georgia.
In the meantime, a guy that's labeled as "high character" with the potential of long-lasting stability on defense with big-time leadership, is set to report to rookie camp Friday morning. The general belief is that Rivers is set to become the team's starting middle linebacker -- if everything goes accordingly.