The Cincinnati Bengals will square off against the New York Jets Sunday night; a team that's handled the Bengals well enough to draw enough groans from Bengals fans, especially after a 31-point loss against the Detroit Lions last Friday. What's always interesting to someone like me is how much of a connection both teams have with each other. We're not talking about the Jets knocking Cincinnati out of the playoffs in 2009, or the fact New York holds a 17-7 advantage in regular and postseason play. This sport is played by people, and a lot of these people are connected some way or another.
Jets head coach Rex Ryan coached two seasons with the University of Cincinnati (1996-97) after coaching two seasons at Eastern Kentucky (1987-88) where he earned his Bachelor's and Master's degrees. Ryan would go on to serve under Ravens defensive coordinator Marvin Lewis for three seasons while Ryan coached the defensive line. Later he coached at Morehead State (1990-93). Bryan Dermody, New York's assistant strength and conditioning coach, coached at Louisville from 2006-09.
Jets tight ends coach Mike Devlin coached at Toledo from 2004-05, defensive assistant coach Jeff Weeks coached at Western Kentucky (1987-88) and Morehead State (1990-91) and Jets special teams coach Mike Westhoff coached at Dayton (1976).
Before joining the Cincinnati Bengals in the mid-90s, Bengals offensive line coach was with the New York Jets coaching staff from 1992-93. Defensive backs coach Kevin Coyle is from Staten Island.
Running back Brian Leonard, from Gouverneur, New York and long snapper Clark Harris, from Manahawkin, New Jersey, played at Rutgers. Safety Jeromy Miles, linebacker Vincent Rey, tight end John Nalbone and fullback Chris Pressley are from the New Jersey/New York region.
Jets center Nick Mangold, from Centerville, played at Ohio State, as did wide receiver Santonio Holmes. Guard Trevor Canfield played with the University of Cincinnati Bearcats while cornerback Julian Posey and linebacker Stafford Gatling played at Ohio University. Tight end Jeff Cumberland and safety Eric Smith are from Ohio, linebacker John Conner and running back Bilal Powell are from Kentucky.
Bengals place kicker Mike Nugent, from Ohio and the Ohio State University, was drafted by the Jets in the second round during the 2005 NFL Draft and spent four seasons there.
Linebackers Rey Maualuga and Keith Rivers played together with quarterback Mark Sanchez, wide receiver Patrick Turner and running back Joe McKnight at Southern California. Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton and wide receiver Bart Johnson played with Jets wide receiver Jeremy Kerley at TCU.
Jets linebacker David Harris and Bengals cornerbacks Leon Hall and Morgan Trent played together at Michigan. Bengals tackle played with Jets quarterback Greg McElroy at Alabama while defensive lineman Jonathan Fanene and nose tackle Sione Pouha played together at Utah -- and were drafted by their respective clubs during the 2005 NFL Draft.
Lineman Kyle Cook was teammates with Jets safety Eric Smith at Michigan State. Bengals linebacker Dontay Moch played alongside linebacker Josh Mauga at Nevada. Quarterback Dan LeFevour played with Jets linebackers Nick Bellore and Mathias Berning at Central Michigan.