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Bengals on Hard Knocks; Agent vs. Agent, an Andre Smith story; athletes talking contracts with 8.9% American's out of work

+ I don't see a single down-side with the Bengals being on HBO's Hard Knocks this year. Really. I like having the exclusive one-hour weekly episodes that will display the qualities of our players that most people don't see -- or refuse to see because it would threaten their dusty criticisms or force an effort of reevaluation. acknowledged that the HBO series will be in Georgetown this year, which will be confirmed and official during today's press conference at noon. The best part in all this is that we'll get a great look at all the new Bengals we have this year; from our rookies to veteran free agents. The interaction will be key, as well possible curse filled rants by our defensive coordinator, Mike Zimmer.

+ Secret Agent Man. Have you ever read Mad Magazine? Do you remember the Spy vs. Spy pieces in which black and white spy would set up traps against each other? I loved 'em. So it wouldn't be too far fetched to call the Andre Smith version, Agent vs. Agent.

Two agents are continuing to battle to represent the Outland Trophy winner from Alabama, creating another controversy for Smith, the former Huffman High standout.

In a Twitter message posted Wednesday, Smith's former agent, Alvin Keels, acknowledged he was trying to re-sign Smith in time to negotiate a contract with the Cincinnati Bengals.

"How about this Andre Smith story?" Keels wrote. "I'm in a heated battle right now to win his business back. We are in the bottom of the 9th. Root me on."

Earlier in the day, Smith's most recent agent said reports of Keels landing Smith again were incorrect.

"It's a lot about nothing, and I don't know where it came from," agent Rick Smith of Priority Sports told The Birmingham News. "Sometimes people want to cause trouble and rumors get started. We were both the victim of circumstances."

In truth, there's no telling what possible consequence this will have for player and team. The Bengals are much more inclined to work with Rick Smith, who has represented Bengals players in the past and has a good working relationship with the team. If I were to make a one word summary about Smith being represented by Alvin Keels, it would seem to me that that word could be, inadvisable, and to a dramatic degree, disastrous. As long he signs, and as long as he surrounds himself around good level-headed people, then this whole agent thing should turn into a silent whisper (that's right, I write poetry too).

+ Shayne Graham says:

"I appreciate the fact they felt like there was value in franchising me," he said, "but just a little disappointment there wasn't a serious effort to sign a long-term deal."

I like Graham. Recently he's being remembered for missing game-winning field goals. However his contributions and impression in our community, which often goes unnoticed, is awesome. That said, I'm reminded about something we talked about when T.J. Houshmandzadeh was complaining about the prospects of being franchised. The Labor Department reported on May 8 that the jobless rate in the United States reached 8.9% through the month of April. A kicker scheduled to make roughly $2.5 million shouldn't be questioning the team's effort at signing a long-term deal. Not publicly. He might have every justified reason to hate being franchised. But complaining about it seems a bit petty to us worrywarts who could be out of a job at any moment.

+ Chris Henry will be working Chad Johnson's spot, opposite of Laveranues Coles, because Johnson isn't expected to be with the team during voluntary workouts this month. Palmer has always favored Henry for his size and speed. When Henry was always getting into trouble, the team's quarterback wasn't as critical publicly as he could have been, always showing support hoping that Henry would rebound. Now that it appears more than ever that Henry has left his troubles behind him, Palmer is geeking. Read the following to yourself, really fast. It sounds like a kid sitting on Santa's lap.

"He's a perfect fit for that spot," Palmer said. "He's got a lot to prove. He's as talented as anyone in the league. He's as talented as Chad is. He definitely hasn't had the success Chad has had. He could end up being a real nice X, a real nice weakside receiver. He's an explosive player. He's definitely a gamebreaker."