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Key word this off-season... character

When Marvin Lewis explains that Odell Thurman isn't on the team and his return isn't on the horizon, it makes me wonder what the hell he did.

"Odell is not a member of this football team," Lewis said. "He's on suspension by the NFL. He's got a long road to go. I'm not even going to spend any time talking about Odell. We're talking about our '07 season. He's not part of this football team." - Marvin Lewis

So far, we know that he was suspended for the entire 2006 season for multiple violations of the league's substance abuse policy. The final straw that broke the camel's back was the DUI after Pittsburgh I. This makes me wonder, Chris Henry has provided alcohol to underage girls, been arrested for gun charges, caught with marijuana and pulled over while driving intoxicated. After all those societal issues "not being right" that Lewis says time and time again, you'd think Henry would be the one that's "not a member of this football team." Where is the balance in this? Where is this level playing field that supposedly exists?

Obviously, we've heard a small dosage of what could be the issue here. Thurman did something that hit Lewis and Mike Brown personally. What that is, we may never know. But that has to be the reality given the imbalance of what Henry has done and what Thurman has done.

So now we open the issue of character. The topic that's plagued Lewis this season. The theme of the off-season. Consider this now: every acquisition will have a deeper background check than an applicant at the Lebanon Correctional Institute. Lewis says he'll now rule with an iron fist -- around the same time the team picked up Jason Berryman who has spent 258 days in jail. Here's Berryman's wrapsheet.

May 27, 2004: Arrested for "breaking the driver's side window of an automobile owned by his ex-girlfriend during a heated argument May 7."

August 24, 2004: Arrested and charged with two counts of second-degree robbery and two counts of first-degree theft when he stole $4 from an Iowa State student and punched him in the face before stealing a cell phone from another ISU student.

January 28, 2006: Cited for being on the premises at a club underage -- listed as an alcohol offense.

Lewis continues, "They long for that from me to be the hard (guy) all the time in certain areas. So we'll make sure I give them what they want."

Forgive us coach when we say, "we'll believe it when we see it".

Sifting through other items on the docket.

TMQ awarded Cincinnati with the worst play of the year.

Single Worst Play of the Season So Far: It's overtime in the Pittsburgh at Cincinnati game. The defending champion Steelers are eliminated from postseason play, but Cincinnati must win to keep its playoff chance alive -- and it would later turn out that had Cincinnati won, Denver's surprise loss would have put the Trick or Treats into the postseason. Pittsburgh faces first-and-10 on its 33. The Bengals start a chain-reaction of fiasco by big-blitzing. Santonio Holmes catches a quick slant in front of Cincinnati corner Tory James, who stumbles. James then turns around and watches Holmes run 67 yards for the winning touchdown. It's overtime of the final game, if you don't catch the Pittsburgh runner your season ends, and James just stood there watching Holmes run; eventually, he sort-of jogged in the general direction of the play. Several other Bengals just stood watching Holmes head up the sideline, too. It's overtime of the final game, if you don't catch the Pittsburgh runner your season ends! Cincinnati Bengals, you committed the Single Worst Play of the 2006 Regular Season. Afterward, Carson Palmer whined, "This is just another game we shouldn't have lost to a team we feel we're better than." Carson: You prove this on the field, not in the media room. The no-account Bengals had no business in the playoffs, and the football gods spoke.

This sounds like the selfishness that Carson Palmer and Willie Anderson spoke of.