When it comes to the Bengals' latest postseason heartbreak, it's not just Bengals fans who feel bad for the team.
Even Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James can't help but feel bad for at least what Marvin Lewis had to go through watching his team collapse in what could have been his first playoff win as head coach of the Bengals.
Unfortunately, the Bengals' loss to the Steelers in the Wild Card round is something even many non-sports fans know about. It was brutal, and Lewis took a lot of the blame for his players' after-the-whistle actions with the game on the line.
James knows those players, just like in any professional sport, are grown men and need to act as such. Whether it was Domata Peko's dumb personal foul for running onto the field with a cape on, Vontaze Burfict's illegal hit, or Adam Jones' egregious unsportsmanlike penalty in the closing seconds, these guys need to be mature adults and avoid the type of mistakes that ended up playing a role in costing the Bengals their first playoff win in 25 years.
That's why in a recent ESPN article, James expressed support for Lewis when discussing then-Cavaliers head coach, David Blatt, and his struggles as a coach.
"What's funny -- which is totally off topic -- but as much as I'm a fan of Big Ben [Roethlisberger] and James Harrison, being from Akron, and Antonio Brown, seeing Cincinnati lose that game, it kind of hurt to see Marvin Lewis go through that," James said of the Bengals' coach. "Because I think he put those guys in position with a second-string quarterback to win that ballgame. And those guys kind of blew it away."
James continued, "I can relate, in sports, kind of the coaches always get the worst of it. I think that was a prime example of a coach putting his team in position as best as he could. I mean, he can't go out there. He can't go out on the field and play. But he put them in the position to win, and they had their chance and they kind of blew it."
It must be noted that since LeBron made these comments, Blatt was fired and replaced by assistant coach Tyronn Lue. However, LeBron was still right with his comments. Lewis had the Bengals in great position to finish off the Steelers and win on the strength of their seasoned veterans, but, the team crumbled, acting more like college freshman than NFL players in the playoffs.
You can criticize Lewis for having an 0-7 playoff record. He's not running from that; but you also can't ignore that this latest loss was one that he deserved to win, had the Bengals players stuck to the playbook and avoided the extracurriculars that played a heavy hand in their loss.