Willie Anderson will always be one of my favorite players of all time. He was the guy who suffered through the losing seasons in the 90's and still stayed loyal to the club that drafted him. Of all the reasons that I wanted the Bengals to win the Super Bowl in 2005, Anderson getting a ring was one of the biggest. Unfortunately, he would ultimately have to settle for four Pro Bowls and the love of every true Bengals fan nation wide..... and Fat Burger franchises in Cincinnati and Atlanta. Ever been there? I suggest the Double King Burger.
If you were getting ready to vote on November 2 and one of the people you respected most gave his endorsement for a candidate that you weren't sure about, wouldn't that help you make up your mind? Say John McClane (no, not Bruce Willis.... John McmotherefingCane) jumped out of the silver screen and into the television to say, "Hey, vote for ___ _____ or I'll do the same thing to you that I did to Hans Gruber", wouldn't you say, "Yes John, I will vote for ____ ____. You renegade copped yourself right into my heart."
Since I roughly feel the same way about Willie Anderson as I do about John McCane, I'll take his word for it too. And Anderson's word is that Andre Smith is going to be good.
"Given the conditions, the loud noise, the no-huddle, all the checks, and being down 24-3 and all those things, I thought it was a good performance considering all those things he overcame," Anderson said Monday. "He showed he’s got the talent, that he can play. And the thing I liked is he was really into the game. You’ve got to remember, this is his rookie year."
So many of us have written Smith off. First it was the agent thing before the draft, then it was the holdout, then it was the massive amount of weight he gained, then it was his foot that broke (from the massive amount of weight), then it was........ sorry.... I've written so much about Smith's disappointments that it's given me Carpel Tunnel Syndrome. Maybe he will compensate me for it. Anyway, the point is that Smith has been considered a bust by, I would think, just under 99 percent of Bengals fans. The question is, though, now that he's won the starting job, will he reduce the percentage of people who think him as a bust - and will Willie Anderson's endorsement change minds as well?
"Do you know how hard is to play tackle in the NFL when you’re down 24-3?" Anderson asked. "Not only that, but down 24-3 in a dome. It reminded me when I was a young player and that’s just hard. He’s got things to work on, but it’s not because of talent. He just has to get experience. The thing that I liked is that I really thought he showed some competitive spirit. He was into the game and would get upset when he did something wrong. You know, he talks to his guys around the league. You know they were asking him why he wasn’t playing."
This long and old story could still have a happy ending. I don't think any of us have ever questioned Smith's talent. His work ethic, motivation and his durability were all questioned but not his talent. Luckily for us, talent is the one thing that can't be fixed.
I know I'm willing to give the kid a second chance.... especially if Big Willie tells me to. Are you?