The unraveling of the Cincinnati Bengals is firmly underway as Terrell Owens is no longer holding back his criticism of the organization, and now Carson Palmer himself is envisioning playing elsewhere next season. Chad Ochocinco admitted that he's been desensitized to losing and Marvin Lewis has officially become the other shoe which dangles in the breeze. Once Marvin falls, expect a wave of personnel to run away too as the stability—as fragile as it is now—would become completely nonexistent. This is a team that is charging toward disarray. The glamorous facade of this year's Bengals, dressed up and fancy as they come, has shown to have poor structural integrity and is collapsing as we speak. Shameful.
I'm proud of Carson for answering honestly though. For the first time ever, he has flexed his power position within the organization, effectively applying pressure on ownership. It reminds me of when the younger gorilla does a little chest-thumping to the old silver-back to prove rank in the band. All that's left are statements that end with "or else" and we got ourselves a rootin-tootin showdown to write about this winter and spring.
In most organizations—especially bad ones—it's unusual for a quarterback to have such a power-share of the team, but we know Mike Brown needs him for a variety of reasons and most of those aren't about winning games. Carson is under contract, and Brown historically has not caved to trade demands, so Brown could just keep him here in football limbo and make him the quarterback of the "rebuilding" process. I think that prospect scares Palmer and now he's planting seeds to potential suitors early enough in the process to start negotiations quicker this February.
Carson has also raised questions of leadership and team interest by admitting that he could see himself in another uniform next season. He was chewed up by media everywhere after last week's debacle and the city has venomously turned on him over the course of the season—myself included. He probably feels somewhat abandoned and wrongfully vilified by a community and fan base that he worked hard to please, on and off the field. Getting booed for the rest of his career here would be a dismal future; wouldn't you rather leave too?
That is the beauty of his statement. It not only opens the door for new opportunity, but it rather forcibly shoves one through it. Now he can play the remainder of this year as an audition to the rest of the league. Hopefully he goes rogue and calls whatever he thinks will make him look the best. Each guy in the huddle should get to run their favorite play at least once a game for the rest of the year. Let's get silly, why not?
Finally Carson Palmer's hint at team dissent should make the whole apparatus come down. Without Palmer, I can't see Marvin staying on board and laboring through the entire process over again in that same working environment. Unless he doesn't mind losing or working within the small confides of Mike Brown's operation, then he should stay and average six wins a year, but we know he does mind both of those things, so it seems there is no good reason he should stick around.
Once Marvin goes, the public will tear into Brown with stern demands of organizational change and I'm afraid it will get very ugly. Anti-Mike Brown rallies on Fountain Square and Paul Brown Stadium, empty season-ticket sections, nine blackouts next season, an influx of Cleveland Browns fans to the area, my God! In what should be a happy little football valley, instead has the darkened skies and scorched earth of a wasteland. To all free-agents to be: stay away from this place. It will ruin you too.
So like the musicians on the Titanic, the players will carry on for three more games, pack their bags and, if they're still under contract, sink into the abyss. The fortunate others will cram into lifeboats and paddle their way to other teams, but even now, this ship is going down fast so they had better hurry. Here's to the good times; remember them well.
Mojokong—we knew this day would soon come, but how strange it all is now that it's here.