Need to know the leadership qualities that come from left tackle Andrew Whitworth? Along with being the type of leader that organized player workouts during the NFL lockout, Whitworth is also the team's player representative.
But he's so much more than that.
Much of the national media descended upon Paul Brown Stadium on Wednesday, including Dan Wetzel with Yahoo! Sports who writes an extremely engaging and positive essay that highlights Cincinnati's change from a four-win team in 2010, to an organization that's earned consecutive postseason berths. We'll be reflecting on bits and pieces of that this morning, but the one thing (of many) that really stood out was Whitworth's impact that literally helped change a losing culture.
Lewis told Wetzel that the "turning point" was after the second preseason game, with Carson Palmer holding out and Andy Dalton's offense rocked during Cincinnati's 27-7 loss.
The quarterback from TCU had won over his teammates during voluntary offseason workouts, but suddenly there was some hesitation. No one, especially the veterans, want to waste time on a team incapable of success. In the past, everything would've splintered. Instead, a group of team leaders, including Andrew Whitworth, Frostee Rucker, Domata Peko and Robert Geathers showed up in Lewis' office for a meeting.
Wetzel writes that at that point, Whitworth gave a speech and Lewis reflected that that moment was when the "new Bengals were born."
"We just kind of said, 'you can sit around and complain about the situation we are in or we can say, we have no excuses, no reason to doubt, everyone thinks we can't do it anyway so let's go out and win football games,'" (Whitworth) said. No more dreaming of Carson Palmer walking through that door. "We said, 'the truth is we have a young kid who knows what he's doing and if we play well around him, we'll have success.'"
"I let Whitworth talk," Lewis said. "And they got it back. I think Whit had great words of wisdom for them and what we needed to do. And to not flinch. We have to work through the adversity. It's not going to be like we scripted."
We'll highlight more of Wetzel's essay throughout the day, but make sure you read it on your own.