Remembering Thomas Howard and Zeng Long Liu

USA TODAY Sports

Former Bengals teammates, coaches and the media react to Thomas Howard's passing. And a few mailbag-like notes from yesterday's bacon.

The death of Thomas Howard is startling reminder how quickly life can end, even during circumstances that you believed you'd live through. You wake up one morning, follow an unfolding series of events and then you're gone. I've never met Howard personally, but many fans have and teammates, the media and coaches are reflecting on the genuine good guy that he was.

"I'm lost for words; my heart dropped as I read it on my phone," Maualuga said via Bengals.com. "He always had that smile. And he was so passionate on and off the field. I bet you find no one who has a bad word to say about Thomas."

"No question he was one of the players that was the glue of that team," said linebackers coach Paul Guenther. "He was exactly the kind of player you love to coach. Unselfish. Dedicated to his craft. He wanted to help younger players. Every coach and player knew he'd be there for them. I feel awful."

According to police reports, Howard was driving over 100 miles per hour when his BMW slammed into a big-rig, jumped the medium, hit a Monte Carlos and hit a Honda head-on.

"He wasn't just a mentor to me, he was a mentor to a lot of guys," Maualuga said. "He'd give you anything you needed. It sucks he's gone this early. I think the locker room is going to be quiet tomorrow."

"Howard came to the Bengals in 2011 after the lockout ended and when the linebacking unit was being reshuffled," Joe Reedy with the Cincinnati Enquirer wrote on Tuesday. "He emerged as the leading tackler on the team and a good presence in the locker room. That’s why many of us were sad to hear about his season-ending knee injury last year and then during the offseason when the knee wasn’t making enough progress for him to return to the Bengals."

However, I fear one thing lost in this is that Howard's actions, very preventable, led to another man's death. When his BMW flipped over the medium, his car slammed into the Honda driven by 64-year old Zeng Long Liu, who was heading home from work.

It's just a tragedy. One that could have been avoided, sure. But one that happened. We express our condolences to both families affected by it.

***

A couple of notes from yesterday's bacon, asking if fans need to change.

Long-time commenter and reader ephram wrote:

Fans are paying money, good money, to go to the game and watch their team. These fans are emotionally & financially invested in the team, and want to see the team do well. If the team does well, the fans cheer, and cheer some more. But if the team makes a horrible play or bad decision or the ref blows a call, these same vocal, emotional fans are just supposed to sit there in reserved silence?

I understand that the comment is a reaction to other comments, but my two cents: Feeling the need to vocalize frustration is commonplace in every sport, from any country, during any period in human history. It's not about the investment in finances, time spent or the heart. Rather a reaction based on expectations and frankly, the Cincinnati Bengals have built our expectations to the point that we believe, literally believe, that they'll win every game. Looking at human history throughout the world, there's nothing strong than belief (or damaging than losing that belief).

Yet, coming off a two-game losing streak, the Bengals offense goes three-and-out, three-and-out, interception, pick-six and three-and-out, promoting the reaction. To be honest, boo or don't boo, I don't care and it's everyone's right.

However, maybe it's coincidence. Yet I just can't help but think, after fans booed in the first quarter, the Bengals rallied for 31 points in the second quarter against a Browns defense that hasn't allowed more than 31 points for an entire game this season (Lions and Packers each scored 31). It has to be coincidence that Cincinnati broke a franchise record, scoring the most points in a single quarter.

(X-Files theme)

Other comments:

What if it’s not a player you’re booing, but a coach?

If you can manage to capture half of the stadium's capacity to shout, "Boo Gruden", then it makes sense, spif. Otherwise booing is too generic for players and coaches to understand what's being booed.

Or has this team failed us? 0 sb wins. how many years of 0 playoff wins. I understand booing at home games is wrong, and not fully supporting certain players is wrong. But then again, who pays for all this stuff to go on? The fans, we pay nfl tickets, overcharged food, tickets, i can go on.

As I said in the original posting, fans only pay for a fraction of the player salaries, so that argument doesn't hold much meat to the bone, Cali. That said, there's nothing wrong with booing, in my honest opinion. It's not just a matter of sports either; you're free to express your opinions. In the immortal words of Earl Pitts (voiced by the great Gary Burbank), "this is Uhmerika."

To stop complaining about Bengals fans complaining ….. We complain, discuss, and argue BECAUSE we love our team and are interested/invested in them.

You must not be from around Cincinnati, Caleb. Turn into a sports radio station and you'll adapt, kemosabe.

These fans pay good money ($100+ per ticket) so Michael Johnson and his teammates can get rich. In return, sometimes the result is not what they expected for that money. I don’t personally boo. But by all means I think fans have the right, especially loyal fans (far more loyal than Michael Johnson) to the Bengals.

If player salaries were 100 percent earned through ticket prices, they might make six figures, deadcat (odd name for a Bengals site, by the way). Though six figures would be nice for most of us, they wouldn't be "rich". Agree on the second point, but only if booing the moment and not applying 20 years of misery in said booing.

I think the booing is a young mans game. One of the things I have developed in my 49 years on this earth is patience. I understand now it takes time to allow things to evolve at their own pace. Those who think we should be the best in the game right now have not had the pleasure of watching something awesome grow. That. Is where we are right now we have the making of a true dynasty in the making. The best way to derail it is to start mortgaging our future by giving away our draft picks to get the next shiny thing then what you have is Philly from a couple years ago.

Couldn't have said it better, Heywood08.

***

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