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Marvin Lewis gets into an argument with reporter... and?

Cincinnati Enquirer beat writer Dustin Dow, after featuring a piece on Andrew Simon of WDR, has done what Chick Ludwig has nearly done (but failed) countless times: a pissed off Marvin Lewis responding pissed off-like. Dow asked, "If you guys finish this out winning three in a row, or even two of three, how much will it show that improvement has been made, versus covering up improvements that still need to be made?"

Lewis responds: “Oh, I don’t think it covers anything up that we feel interiorly, and that’s the only thing that matters." Then Lewis goes after Dow, "Dustin, all your angles and so forth, I’m going to ask other people questions because I really don’t like the angles you take in here each and every week.” Clearly having enough, Lewis cuts off another question from Dow and says, "I’m not going to get into a debate with you, buddy. All right? … I just told you I’m not going to answer your questions any more. All right? They might have to send somebody else over to do your job. All right?"

In truth, when reading the question before Lewis' response, I didn't think to myself, "Oh man, Marvin ain't going to like that." We're not exactly sure Dow's angles, which in a round-about appeared to claim, by way of Lewis' reaction, that the head coach is covering up some Bengals-gate conspiracy theory. Obviously there's a history between these two because Lewis gets immediately suckered into responding a potentially-spun question in which Lewis took way too much exception over. We're not sure that Lewis would respond the same with Ludwig, though the Chickster acknowledges that he passed the torch. On the other hand, the best football teams ALWAYS cover up things they need to improve. Going out and saying, "we're terrible at this phase" is an open door invitation to other teams, or teams competing with the Bengals on an available free agent; a blue print for competitive teams to beat you. So we're not exactly sure why Lewis responded so defensively -- though, he is a defensive minded coach -- considering, as a head coach, he should cover up things on his team that he must improve on (that's our guess at why he got defensive).

Paul Daugherty defends Dow by basically saying that Lewis failed at a chance to send a positive message, when in truth, he's been the most positive coach with a 2-11-1 record in NFL history (yet, he's been ripped for that too). Perhaps we could be given a positive message about the newspaper (or even the radio and television) industry in the future; though I hardly doubt that the industry will tell us that they're not covering up their books to draw additional funding and revenue sources, as most reporters work for the papers, and bloggers become the information salvation of the future. OK, way too much praise for little guys like us. But bloggers are strong, because we don't get paid and we do this in our spare time -- some of us way better than the professionals, but I digress.

This isn't the same Lewis. Sure, he's talked down to reporters; find me one celebrity that does press conferences sometimes four times a week and show me where they don't talk down to people at times. Coaches are older football guys and tire of the same repeated caution to avoid questions that could make them look worse -- though Lewis didn't help his own cause, did he? I'm not defending him; that's simply an honest to goodness fact.

I really don't care one way or another. Bengals head coach reacted badly, in terms of PR, to a question that he probably took out of context, misunderstood, or had something in mind that reasonably fixated to the question's answer. We also believe that if Dow wants to ask "tough questions", then Lewis hardly should be the target. We know who that is. Then again, this really wasn't a question that we considered "tough". At the same time, we think when the reporter/journalist becomes the story, then we're far less impressed.

In the end, and we've said this before, it's a wonder why coaches and players say anything at all. When they admit to something, they're strung up alive. If they don't, they're given the Bill Belichick treatment. My advice, just shut up. Obviously, we've gone after Lewis before for his bland generic answers, but it's times like these we're reminded why a coach and player should be a rigid robot reading through a collection of talking points, and pre-approved responses.

Better yet, just ditch the press conferences so Lewis can do something else. What do we ever gain with these things, other than a few quotes in the newspaper or the blogs? Sure, I reference them, but it's hardly the heart of this blog, where I've struggled recently to talk about the team, rather than the entire franchise.

The Cincinnati Enquirer ran a poll and over 65% of those responded, are taking the reporters side; just under 25% for Lewis' side and 10% doesn't give a damn (me!)