The Cincinnati Bengals apparently saw it from miles away. Those trend-setting genius of the NFL draft. But at the time, and the corresponding years from people griping about Jermaine Gresham, no one else did. At least not to the degree of what's going on today.
When asked about drafting Aaron Hernandez, Bengals president Mike Brown told FoxSports.com on Monday that he was too much of a risk.
"That one is no secret. We just stayed away from it," Brown said about Hernandez inside his office at Bengals headquarters. "We didn’t question the playing ability. But we went for Gresham."
Brown, who admitted that they're taking fewer risks in the NFL draft, went one further. While recalling a moment of perfect procrastination three years ago, Brown said (via Alex Marvez) that the "Bengals medically disqualified Gronkowski from their draft board "because he had a bad back" coming out of Arizona State University."
Brown said the Bengals also try to avoid the player who is "a total jerk in some ways … short of breaking the law but obnoxious and off-putting. It feeds back to (our team)."
Obviously the Bengals history will force people with old jokes (like many Steelers fans) to scratch their collective heads at the perspective. Though Bengals players haven't been completely quiet on the legal entanglement front, the shift towards good character players is unmistakable. From the charming "oh shucks" smile of Andy Dalton and the anti-diva A.J. Green, the Bengals are built around quality. Granted. They're as susceptible as any team with veteran free agents, with Marvin Lewis aiming to rebuild careers with players like Adam Jones and Cedric Benson at relatively low cost.
At the same time, the core of this squad is led by players that fans can easily stand behind and not worry about 3 a.m. postings.