On Madden's retirement; Tank becomes mentor; keep focusing on keeping Palmer protected

+ I know that towards the end of his Fox tenure that John Madden played up to his well-known Maddenisms on every cue imaginable. People were irritated with his shtick, emphasizing one-word Batman phrases, playing with the telestrator and all that. Even so, when he moved to Monday Night and Sunday Night Football, he went back to being good, pointing out the grit of football is always won on the line and complimenting the linemen that made successful offensive plays work.

Was he the best in the business? Well, there's really no formula to make such an assessment while people tend to have their own opinions broadcasted like variables to any such idea. I liked him, always have. Compared to other broadcasters, his stint with Al Michaels, few, if any, were better and it's hard to say who was better. Troy Aikman? Phil Sims? His video games quickly became the standard, immensely popular and fun, that a certain Bengals blogger that wishes to remain anonymous actually took one franchise into the 2016 season -- consequently, the Bengals were on a 152-game winning streak.

I've always enjoyed listening to Madden. Even though he made some of the most obvious statements, you knew that there was a wealth of knowledge when he hit some nuggets that you had never thought of -- mostly in the trenches.

Now that Madden is retiring, it's good to know that another Cincinnati broadcaster makes it. Joining Al Michaels, the former Reds play-by-play guy that preceded Marty Brennaman, is 36-touchdown receiving Cris Collinsworth. Former Cincinnati players make the national broadcast booth, it seems, frequently. Bob Trumpy, Collinsworth and now Barry Larkin and Sean Casey appear on MLB Network's post-game shows -- which I like better than ESPN's Baseball Tonight. There's more. Plenty more. It's cool that we see players and personalities in sports that pass through Cincinnati in the national media.

+ An aspect of Tank Johnson is that he's making a role for himself as the team's most veteran defensive tackle, and thus mentor.

“The fact that they’re a young group of hungry guys who wants to win is refreshing,” Johnson said. “I think some of these guys haven’t even tapped into their potential as far as their ability to play yet. I was in the same position as they were at one point in my career. It just took a little bit of veteran leadership for me to get over the hump.”

Johnson joined the team on Tuesday for workouts; the same day in which his signing was official. I don't know about you, but I get the feeling that we're going to see big things from Tank this year. He's motivated, has some pieces around him that could become motivated, and he's naturally a disruption up the middle.

+ Here's a few ironies that James Walker writes:

I find it ironic Cincinnati Bengals receiver Chad Ocho Cinco complained about his contract. Yet he's willing to give up a quarter-million dollars not to work out.

We did too when he did the same thing last year. However, we really weren't clear on his motives at the time. He wanted out of Cincinnati, that much was clear. Publicly he said he was tired of losing. Reports would surface that Johnson was becoming broke having used up his guaranteed money and his estimated base pay. Receivers like Larry Fitzgerald were being paid more, and the egos of elite receivers prevent one from being paid less than the other.

Assumptions about money were further made when Oil Slick (aka Drew Rosenhaus) jumped into the mix, taking some shade under a tree during the first day of mandatory workouts. That tree has sense been euthanized. Eventually, Johnson went quiet and joined the team when Mike Brown agreed to review his contract after 2008. And based on his play in 2008, Johnson isn't likely getting that contract reviewed or renewed.

I find it ironic even some Bengals fans were skeptical when I wrote Cincinnati has sleeper potential in 2009.

Well, there's reason for the skepticism On January 15, 2009, Walker didn't think the Bengals had a chance in hell.

As I've mentioned several times the past few weeks, the Cincinnati Bengals and Cleveland Browns would first have to do better than Pittsburgh and Baltimore before they can think about the playoffs. The way Cincinnati is built right now, I don't see the Bengals overtaking those two teams in the near future. Baltimore and Pittsburgh are going to be Super Bowl contenders next year as long as each team takes care of business in free agency and the draft.

In Walker's defense, there's an unsure perception of how the Bengals will perform in 2009. Truly, the Bengals will be the bi-polar prediction this year; if all things go right, they make the playoffs, nothing goes right, they win four games. You can't predict luck and injury, which is highly influential in sports. If the ball goes our way, and we remain healthy enough, we have the talent on this team to compete. Typically, injury forces teams to use backup players; which has been a weakness of ours, compared to other clubs, for a long time.

+ Adam Caplan writes, while mocking defensive end Brian Orakpo, that if the Bengals "ever want to be competitive again, the Bengals must improve their pass rush and Orakpo would help them do that this season." There's things to note here. One, every defensive player that's spoken to the media has talked about how Mike Zimmer is "unleashing" more. In other words, it seems that the scheme is changing so that the existing players can make that pass rush work.

Personally, all we should be focusing on right now is keeping Palmer healthy with talented pass protection so that we might actually consider being competitive.

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