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CJ Exclusive: interview with former Bengals QB Jeff Blake

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Jeff Blake put on quite a show during his short stint with the Bengals from 1994-1999. Many fans vividly remember his breathtaking deep passes to receivers Carl Pickens and Darnay Scott. In this interview, Dadio and Hodgie ask Jeff about his time in Cincinnati, how it ended, and what he's up to now.

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The date was October 30, 1994. The 0-8 Bengals were facing the Dallas Cowboys, who were coming off back-to-back Super Bowl wins. During the previous game, Cincinnati's starting quarterback, David Klingler, and second-stringer, Donald Hollas, had both gone down with injuries. Left standing was a 6'1" quarterback out of East Carolina University who had been drafted by the New York Jets in the sixth round of the 1992 draft. Things were looking mighty gloomy in Cincinnati.

And then, Jeff Blake happened.

Against the league's best pass defense, Blake completed touchdown bombs of 67 and 55 yards to Darnay Scott in the game's first 16 minutes. Just like that, the Bengals were up 14-0 and the football world was stunned. They'd lose a close game to the Cowboys, 23-20. But, in the next two weeks, Blake threw for 741 yards in wins over the Seahawks and Oilers. Blakemania, or, the Shake-n-Blake craze captivated the Queen City. Blake told me those days in Cincinnati were "tremendous" and "a lot of fun."

In 1995, Blake would throw for 3,822 yards (eighth in the NFL) and 28 touchdowns (fifth) and earn a spot in the Pro Bowl, where he completed a Pro Bowl record 92-yard pass to Yancey Thigpen. In 1996, he threw for 3,624 yards (fifth in the league) and 24 touchdowns (also fifth).

Sadly, Bengals management was quick to give up on Blake when the passing game cooled off during the first half of the 1997 season. Cincinnati repeatedly tried to find his replacement (from Boomer Esiason to Neil O'Donnell to Akili Smith), but ultimately realized Blake was their best option. By that time, he had grown tired of their lack of commitment and decided to sign with the Saints.

"I just think, the whole time I was in Cincinnati, I never really got the feeling that they were going to fully build a team around me, because I wasn’t supposed to be there," Blake said.

Today, Blake's focus is helping athletes prepare for their off-the-field lives. But he does still train quarterbacks. In fact, he even thinks he could help the Bengals' quarterbacks with their deep passes.

"[The deep ball] doesn’t have to do with arm strength," Blake said. "It has to do with trajectory, because the deep ball is not a hard throw. It’s a finesse throw."

Since our interview is lengthy, you can cut to some highlights with the below links:

  • Blake talks about the Shake 'n' Blake craze (link)
  • What Blake would think of when he'd launch a deep pass (link)
  • Blake never felt the Bengals were truly committed to him (link)
  • Why Russell Wilson, who shares attributes with Blake, has been able to thrive (link)
  • What Blake is doing these days (link)
  • How could Blake help Bengals quarterbacks better take advantage of A.J. Green on deep passes? (link)
  • Would Blake consider politics? (link)

Check out the full interview:

And a video of Blake's highlights: