When the Reds are off or play "business day specials" during the day, it leaves me with a terrible void. You have to understand something. Having these day games (or off days) puts a terrible cramp in my style. I'll be at home, writing, editing and researching for this blog, another blog, or hard at work with one of my now infamous science fiction stories and I'll have the Reds game playing in the background. I always know something great happens when Thom Brennaman's voice jumps three octaves -- Paul Keels is a sort of a problem in that regard because his monotone voice rarely alerts me to three-run homeruns by Joey Votto.
With no Reds game, I found myself settling on the couch, flipping through the channels. I started watching the Royals and Yankees game on MLB Network. It was alright, but not worth preventing me from exploring the to see what else was on. Then I found game four of the 1988 Stanley Cup finals on the NHL Network. All that I learned in that game is THANK GOD we no longer live in the 80s. Men were seen big puffy hair, the Joe Dirt style or that partially shaved look where someone terribly screwed up. Perms. The big puffy hair jolted me. And the mustaches. There was a sea of them reaching out and grabbing me through my television. It was horrifying. Repulsing. Yet, I couldn't turn away. I wasn't a teenager until the 90s where we rolled up our jeans and tee-shirts, listened to grudge with some of us wearing the hair accordingly. Looking back, it was alright. But the 80s was like a decade that was misplaced, like it didn't belong in the chronological order of the 20th century.
+ The NFL Network's Steve Wyche thinks that the Bengals are being overlooked this year heading into the season. More specifically, he talks about Andrew Whitworth:
One of the most memorable periods of last season was when I was dispatched to Cincinnati, and later suburban New Orleans, to report on the unfortunate death of Bengals wide receiver Chris Henry. It was indescribably sad and moving because you saw the life supersede the game and young and old people left in the wake trying to cope.
Amid this, Bengals left tackle Andrew Whitworth, like Henry, from Louisiana, stood up as the team spokesman and the guy a lot of players -- and non-players -- looked to for guidance. I just can't forget how this guy, who I only knew in pads and in the middle of a pile, appeared as such a beacon. He really made me take notice of him in a lot of ways, even to where I watched him more closely on the football field.
+ Chad Ochocinco gets an advanced copy of Madden '11, pissing off his Twitter followers in the process.
+ Jason Cole writes that Bengals wide receiver Antonio Bryant is under some pressure heading into Training Camp.
...a return to the playoffs is not out of the question for this misbegotten franchise. Bryant is a big reason why if he can stay healthy and focused. Bryant is a tough guy who gives QB Carson Palmer(notes) a threat in the middle of the field that he can trust. The Bengals sorely missed that after an injury to WR Chris Henry, who was later killed in a tragic accident. If the Bengals can score more effectively, their defense should still be good enough to make a run.
+ What If Sports simulated the entire 2010 NFL season with each game being simulated 501 times. In their simulation, the Bengals finished with a 9-7 record -- tied with Pittsburgh for second. Note, their simulation suggests we have no shot at beating the Ravens, Panthers, Saints, Steelers or Chargers. The Buccaneers and Browns? Circle those as wins, boys.
+ CBSSports.com's Clark Judge scolds Adam Jones, calling it one of five storylines he could do without.
2. The return of Pacman Jones: So now it's the Cincinnati Bengals who are going to scare this guy straight? Yeah, sure, and while they're at it they can promote him for NFL Man of the Year. Pacman Jones isn't a troublemaker; he's a trouble seeker, another paragraph in search of a police blotter. I don't care that he was a first-round draft pick; I care that two teams gave up on him -- as they should -- and that he hasn't played a down in almost two years. I'm sure we'll get a dose of Pacman Redeemed stories this summer, but I'd rather concentrate on guys who have nothing to apologize for.
+ Gred Butler suggests that people shouldn't just hand the division title to the Ravens and write off the Bengals:
However, it may be just as foolish to write off the Bengals. They may have had their share of controversy this offseason with the arrest of star running back (RB) Cedric Benson, but it wasn’t nearly as bad as the Steelers offseason. They have done several things to address last year’s weaknesses as well.
+ Football Outsiders argues that the Steelers were one of the best short-yardage rushing teams in the NFL last year, countering a Mark Kaboly argument that the Steelers actually lacked in short-yardage situations.
+ Speaking of Baltimore, the situation with Ed Reed is getting juicy. During an interview on Thursday with WBAL, Reed said the team refused to provide him with game tape to study at home.
"But don't treat me like that after I gave my blood, sweat and tears for this guy -- for this organization," Reed said. "I train my tail off. I'm putting my life on line. But I have to give you an excuse to study tape? When I do give you an excuse -- and my excuse is I'm studying tape -- that's not a good enough excuse. But Ed is wrong for asking for a new contract. Come on, man."
Reed continued by saying, "I don't have to be playing for them. I could retire. I don't need the money. They could come and get the money if they want. Money don't make me. Money didn't put me here."
Ravens head coach John Harbaugh isn't concerned, saying "I know he loves the Ravens. I know he's going to be there when he can be.
+ Kevin Ewoldt interviews Domonique Foxworth to talk about the CBA and rookie salaries among other things.
+ Denver reached an agreement with outside linebacker Elvis Dumervil, giving him a "five-year extension with $43.1 million in guaranteed money, a league source confirmed. Dumervil's deal, which was negotiated by Gary Wichard, is worth a total of $61.5 million."
+ Chargers head coach Norv Turner said that this Chargers team "has a chance to be the best team since I've been here." The Bengals play the Chargers on Sunday Night Football on December 26, 2010 (week 16).
+ Don't expect any Kurt Warner return, who said that "I’m completely at peace. The itch has not come back one bit."
+ Dennis Dixon's agent, Jeff Sperbeck, is asking why his client isn't number one on the Steelers quarterback depth chart.