CINCINNATI, OH - NOVEMBER 27: Adam Jones #24 of the Cincinnati Bengals looks to a teammate during the game agains the Cleveland Browns at Paul Brown Stadium on November 27, 2011 in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo by Tyler Barrick/Getty Images)
Every once in a while the Cincinnati Bengals will make a move that inspires sports writers (who exhibit delusional aspirations as comedians) to dust off their six-year old notebooks, tapping the microphone in front of a suspicious audience that's bored with the recital of old jokes. Most recently it was Arizona State linebacker Vontaze Burfict, who went from a first-round projection to "undraftable" within a handful of months.
At one point in 2006 the Bengals deserved every bit of criticism, the finger-pointing laughter, witnessing an implosion of arrests that was often defined as a collection of felons, crooks, pirates, vikings, all of whom plundering, pillaging and violating the innocent sensibilities out of beautiful mothers. There were ten incidents that year alone, an unbelievable number. So when someone joked, "there are four Bengals in car, who is driving... the sheriff," it was completely deserved. There has been 15 incidents since that year.
Big deal. Right?
Cincinnati is hardly the most egregious violators, nor the most frequent. Comparatively speaking there were three incidents by Bengals players in 2011. The Minnesota Vikings had seven and the Titans had four [Note: those aren't the only teams with more violations than Bengals players, only two teams we randomly checked].
Generally speaking, according to the San Diego Union-Tribune NFL Arrests Database, there have been 37 "incidents" involving Cincinnati Bengals players dating back to 2000. Of those 37 incidents linked to Bengals players that the San Diego Union-Tribune tracked, 10 had their charges either dropped or acquitted. With Caleb King's most recent arrest, the Minnesota Vikings have overtaken Cincinnati with most incidents (38) during the same time-frame. So there's that.
But this is where we enjoy the meat and potatoes portion of our dinner, where single-strain threads dissolve into complete detachment.
Of the 81 players drafted during the Marvin Lewis era, 13 have been charged with something (either guilty, not guilty or dropped). Broken down further, nine of those 13 selections came from the 2005, 2006 and 2007 drafts combined. Two, and we emphasize two have dealt with incidents since 2008, including two draft classes (2010 and 2011) without a single incident (we're not including the 2012 class just yet).
The result has radically shifted the overall personalities in the Cincinnati Bengals lockerroom, going from chaos that enabled those that shouldn't be enabled, to a group that can help younger players that need a little guidance, writes Geoff Hobson.
Left tackle Andrew Whitworth, one of the de facto captains, can't even begin to compare this locker room to his first one in 2006. He thinks this locker room can help Burfict and bring him along rather than let him do his own thing.
"The character is different; the priorities are different," Whitworth said. "We're just not blowing smoke saying we want to be a good football team. A lot of guys actually work that way, prepare that way, have priorities that way and have the character to live that way. It's just different. I think this locker room has proven time and time again it's a strong one. It's a different deal now."
Many Bengals fans have already moved away from the whole character syndrome, especially considering that of Marvin Lewis' last 48 selections in the NFL draft, two have dealt with incidents that resulted in charges (and one against Maualuga was dropped already). Sure they'll sign guys like Cedric Benson or Adam Jones, who their frequent flyer miles entirely updated, but they were unemployed players, fairly young when they signed, and immensely cheap.
Take what you will from the character debate, often one of the more overblown elitist topics in professional sports today (example, college player receiving red flags for partying too much in college... SHOCKER!). But whatever you conclude, there is no jokes, no one-liners, or character issues with the Cincinnati Bengals. Just ignorant people that lack the mental capacity to adjust with the changing times.
Drafted Bengals players with incidents.
|2009||Rey Maualuga (twice)|
|2007||Leon Hall, Marvin White|
|2006||Johnathan Joseph, A.J. Nicholson (twice), Reggie McNeal, Ahmad Brooks (supplemental pick), Frostee Rucker|
|2005||Odell Thurman, Chris Henry (five times)|
Total number of Bengals players with incidents dating back to 2000.
|2012||2||Rey Maualuga, Jerome Simpson*|
|2011||3||Cedric Benson, Marvin White, Adam Jones|
|2010||3||Cedric Benson, Rey Maualuga, Maurice Purify|
|2008||2||Ahmad Brooks, Chris Henry|
|2007||4||Johnathan Joseph, Chris Henry, A.J. Nicholson, Quincy Wilson|
|2006||10||Chris Henry (three times), Frostee Rucker, Deltha O'Neal, Eric Steinbach, Odell Thurman, Reggie McNeal, Matthias Askew, A.J. Nicholson|
|2004||2||Justin Smith, Levi Jones|
|2001||4||Akili Smith, Neil Rackers, Vaughn Brooker, Tremain Mack|
|2000||4||Corey Dillon, Darney Scott, Steve Foley (twice)|
* Dated January 9, 2012 when he was indicted.
(Major hat-tip to palewook for the posting idea)