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Possible Reason Bengals Asked Weird Questions To Lane Johnson

The Cincinnati Bengals asked a couple of weird questions to Lane Johnson during the NFL Combine. But the weirdness might be identified as one major issue facing the NFL.

Joe Robbins

Undoubtedly you heard about the interview.

Lane Johnson's interview, that is. If not, here's the transcript via Sports Radio Interviews.

"One thing caught me off guard. I was meeting with Cincinnati, and I went in there and they told me to remember five things. They just listed five things like a bear, a flower, a tree, a man and like a dog. And they told me to remember those terms, at the end of the meeting to see if I could remember them. And from that point on, they listed numbers. They said, like, 9167, and then told me to repeat them in reverse order. So that was probably the weirdest meeting I’ve ever been a part of."

Weird? Perhaps. Considering that fans and the media aren't made aware of the actual questions that go on during formal interviews, this could easily be a question that the Bengals have asked routinely. Especially recently.

An aspect that could be identified as reasoning for such questions that test memory is an indirect avenue to learn someone's concussion history, or the impact previous concussions have added to a player's mind, especially an offensive lineman. Per WebMD:

"It's not as simple as how many concussions someone's had -- it's total brain trauma" that matters, says Boston University neurosurgery professor Robert Cantu, MD, who is a senior advisor to the NFL's Head, Neck, and Spine Committee.

"Linemen who've had almost no concussions have the majority of cases of chronic traumatic encephalopathy, because on every play they get their brains rattled, trying to block with their head," Cantu says.

Chronic traumatic encephalopathy has been identified with football players for some time now, including Bengals wide receiver Chris Henry, but found in many cases of recently deceased football players. CTE is "a form of encephalopathy that is a progressive degenerative disease, which an only be definitively diagnosed postmortem in individuals with a history of multiple concussions and other forms of head injury." [Wikipedia]

Concussions are a significant boiling point around the NFL right now. During the NFL Combine, Dr. Stanley Herring and Margot Putukian, members of the NFL Head, Neck and Spine Committee, demonstrated the sideline concussion protocol that will be employed to help diagnose players with possible head injuries.

"The best thing to do," said Dr. Herring, "is walk you through an examination that we would do on the sideline or in the locker room in real time and show you what we’re doing so [you] can have a foundation to understand that once we have this data it helps us make a decision on whether an athlete may be concussed.

"I will tell you that no test is perfect," he added. "Some athletes can perfectly pass all of this and still be concussed. This is our effort to help standardize an approach to a very challenging diagnosis."

College football players undergo far less scrutiny when suffering a concussion, and those are just the teams learn during the chaotic course of a game in a sport where one loss means losing the season. Truth is, there is actually no NCAA concussion protocol and according to the NCAA Compliance Manual, "schools are responsible for instituting a concussion management plan for its student athletes." Per, an example:

Florida State quarterback E.J. Manuel needed to be helped off the field after taking a vicious hit to the head against Florida. Manuel returned to the game after an abbreviated medical examination, and FSU coach Jimbo Fisher later claimed farcically that Manuel had suffered an abdominal injury

Obtaining the medical history of a college player, in regards to concussions, may be more difficult or may not even exist. So why not ask a memory test question?

Or maybe the Bengals are just weird asking weird questions that have nothing to do with concussions. They drafted the league's best defensive tackle, Geno Atkins, in the fourth round without interviewing or inviting him for a workout. Who are we to criticize Cincinnati's predraft practices?