It never ends. NFL writers/ broadcasters just can't seem to help themselves. When the Cincinnati Bengals come up, their eyes light up like Paris Hilton when she spots a guy with a large bulge in their pants. I can't sit here and say that it is not partially justified, but there comes a time to let things go. And that time has long come and gone.
I know I am preaching to the choir here, but the constant mention of character issues in articles and reports all over the internet and TV has pushed it to the point that I do not want to even look at an article written about the Bengals unless it is written by a local writer.
I admit, when I sat down and dug in for the NFL draft, I wanted no drama. While I acknowledged the immense talent of Andre Smith, I was hoping the Bengals would take another one of the top tackles on the board. And it was for selfish reasons. Because I just did not want to hear it.
Smith's foul up are minor. Not the most intelligent of choices, but I do think overblown. He had improper contact with an agent. Ok, dumb move, but the consequences I am sure taught him a lesson. How many players are going to get suspended from a Bowl Game and not see what they did wrong? If he has half a brain, he will learn from it.
Leaving the Combine early, again, was a dumb move. But the way the media jumped on him over that taught him early how much his actions will be scrutinized by the media. How much he needs to watch what he says and does.
The more and more I think about it, this may have actually been a blessing in disguise. The severity of his mistakes were minor and not illegal (in terms of state/ federal law) and the consequences were severe enough that it may have pushed his maturity level ahead 2-3 years.
Rey Maualuga's screw ups are around the same level. Getting into a fight freshmen year of college is a little bit more of a red flag to me because of the nature of the incident, but that was also his freshmen year. Not exactly recent (like many other things the Bengals still have to hear about), nor was he "making it rain" or on the field stomping on opposing players heads. And walking up behind a good looking woman and pretending to grind on her is not by any means mature. To me, it's on the same level as Joe Namath being wasted during a TV interview and hitting on the reporter (I don't remember who the reporter was). Seriously though, is that really enough of a red flag for people to think he has huge character issues?
Bernard Scott is the only one I feel warrants any real examination. 5 arrests, 4 different schools and he was academically ineligible to move up to division 1. This is probably the only pick that I have really questioned. But so far since he has been drafted, he has said all the right things and presented himself in the correct manner. He may not be out of the water yet, but he is swimming in the right direction so far.
I was going to go into how may players have been arrested who are not on the Bengals the past year and the severity of some of their charges (example- Donte Stallworth and DUI manslaughter, Bills DB Donte Whitner tasered and arrested, Plaxico Burress protecting his bling), but this rant has gone on long enough.
The basic point is this- this has NEVER been a problem exclusive to the Bengals. This has been an NFL problem for awhile now. But because of one year and a bunch of arrests of players, of which only one (somehow) is still on the team, the Bengals will have a target painted on their back for longer that I think anyone realizes yet.
So if any big time NFL writer/ broadcaster ever comes across this blabbering blog post (unlikely), my challenge is this. Find something relevant to write about. Stop giving in to what every Steelers, Ravens and Browns fan does and go straight for writing about character issues. You get paid for what you do because you are not supposed to think like the average NFL fan. You are supposed to one step ahead, writing about stuff that people like me haven't even though of yet.
Stop being lazy.