Of those of you that's known me for a while, following my diatribes from BengalsZone to here, then you'll easily point out who my favorite Bengals player was. Yes, was. He's gone. Away. Sent packing after refusing to take a pay cut. I was furious. Pissed. All that. Sure, my favorite player was cut. But it also didn't make football sense; it still doesn't. Even 85% of you said it was a bad decision. After letting Willie Anderson go, the Bengals franchised Stacy Andrews, who allowed 9.5 sacks, and now recovering from a terrible knee injury. I don't want to sound bitter, maybe I am. And I don't want to suggest that Andrews is terrible; he's really not that bad -- though that number "9.5" is pretty glaring. But the Bengals weakened their team after cutting Anderson. I still believe that. I wrote at the time, that "the Bengals are dangerously walking a high-wire act trusting the health of Levi Jones and Stacy Andrews, pointing towards a life-long backup and a rookie tackle to supplement the position whereas they had a Pro Bowl tackle, two years removed." Was it injury? Obviously, NO!
Anyway, that's history. Gone. Over. Back there.
In Willie Anderson's case, being cut is the best thing that could have ever happened to him.
“Do you know what it’s like to finally be in a locker room where guys talk about winning a championship? I prayed for a chance to be on a team like this, where guys are talking about football, day in and day out,” said Anderson, whose Ravens take on the Steelers in the AFC championship game in Pittsburgh on Sunday. “They talk about winning a championship.”
Championship. That's all Willie wanted. A ring. Tough to accomplish, tougher if you're a Bengals player.
“I’ve always been the guy hosting the party,” said Anderson, who resides in Atlanta in the offseason. “Me and guys like Takeo would sit there and listen to the guys on TV talk about how the team that can just come up with the two or three key plays in the game will be the one that wins. Now to be one of those teams, man, you have no idea how different it is from all those years in Cincinnati … I wouldn’t change my career for anything, but to have this chance, man, this is something so sweet.”
“When I was deciding where I should play, I just had a good feeling about this team,” Anderson said. “Everybody was telling me, ‘Oh man, go play in San Diego’ or ‘Go play in Tampa.’ I was talking with [Bengals quarterback] Carson Palmer and he was like, ‘You’re crazy not to play in San Diego.’ Part of it’s the team they had and the other is that he’s a California guy so he can’t understand why anybody wouldn’t play in California. [Bengals wide receiver] T.J. [Houshmandzadeh] was the same way.
“But when I was talking with [Baltimore assistant coach and former Bengals assistant] Hue Jackson and [linebacker] Ray Lewis, they told me that they had a plan. With the defense they have and the running game they said they were going to have, I felt like this was the place.”
We're happy for Willie, though we're the insufferable Bengals fans that host the partys with friends; not because the Bengals are playing, rather playoff football is so sweet. I do hope that the Ravens succeed this year, if for anything, Willie Anderson.