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Bengals Bytes (2/6): So close

How close are the Bengals from returning to the Super Bowl? Firing Marvin Lewis would be an awful idea. The news around Johnny Manziel just keeps getting worse and worse.

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Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

Notes: Boomer Super talks again; Hawk says Bengals won't fall back in North; Goodell pans Pro Bowl
It is Super Bowl 50 and that means Boomer Esiason has been involved in more than a third of them. Every one since Super Bowl XXXIV as an announcer and the one that never goes away when he was the reigning NFL MVP in 1988 and the Bengals lost Super Bowl VVIII to the 49ers with 34 seconds left. "There’s nothing like playing in it. But if I can’t play, then I’d rather do this," said Esiason this week, taking a break from, what else, talking.

Super Bowl notes: Griffeys hit radio row together
The onslaught of famous athletes descending upon radio row included Cincinnati product Ken Griffey Jr. and former Big Red Machine great Ken Griffey Sr., who spent five hours making the rounds in connection with Bayer Aspirin and their Men Who Speak Up campaign to promote early detection of prostate cancer.

Bengals: Firing Marvin Lewis would destroy Super Bowl hopes
Bengals fans are rightfully frustrated after Marvin Lewis’ seventh consecutive playoff loss, but Mike Brown made the right move in retaining his head coach. Many remember the days of the "Bungals," an era full of failure and dread that the team would never be able to escape from the proverbial cellar of the NFL. Much like the current Cleveland Browns, the Cincinnati Bengals were once an NFL laughingstock.

How far are Cincinnati Bengals from returning to the Super Bowl?
Just how close were the Cincinnati Bengals to being a Super Bowl team this season? One look at the two teams competing in Sunday's big game makes it clear the Bengals really weren't that far away. After all, they were a fumbled snap and an overtime touchdown drive away from beating the Denver Broncos on the road while playing with their second-year backup quarterback. Had they won that Week 16 game with AJ McCarron and went on to the beat the Ravens in Week 17, the Bengals would have been the AFC's No. 1 playoff seed.

Random Bytes

The NFL Is San Francisco’s Worst Nightmare
Two years ago, the NFL abandoned San Francisco. They took the Niners and moved them 45 miles away to an area that, spiritually, has little to nothing in common with the city the team once called home. But they kept the team name for the sake of brand equity, and this week the NFL is bringing all their little Super Bowl party decorations to San Francisco, forcibly seizing half of downtown, putting the number 50 on every free space they possibly could (for real, you can’t avoid it), and generally acting as if the Niners never skipped town to go play in a billionaire’s exurban tax write-off.

Johnny Manziel’s agent dumps him
Johnny Manziel's agent has had enough. In the wake of the latest allegations that Manziel abused his girlfriend, agent Erik Burkhardt released a statement this morning saying he will no longer represent Johnny Football.

Dallas Cowboys: Johnny Manziel's father: If son doesn't get help, QB 'won't live to see his 24th birthday'
Johnny Manziel's family is concerned for his well-being, but the NFL quarterback has twice declined to be admitted to area rehabilitation facilities in the last week, according to his father, Paul Manziel. "I truly believe if they can't get him help, he won't live to see his 24th birthday," Paul Manziel told The Dallas Morning News.

The truth about Will Smith’s Concussion and Bennet Omalu
At the climactic moment of Concussion, a docudrama out Christmas Day about the young coroner in Pittsburgh who took on the NFL, the FBI turns up. Will Smith stars as Bennet Omalu, whose discovery of what seemed to be a lethal form of illness in the brains of former football players has already turned into a long and painful fight. Doctors on the NFL payroll have done a hatchet job on his reputation, even trying to make his papers disappear from scientific journals. Strangers have targeted him with death threats, and a late-night caller has yelled at him for trying to "vaginize" the nation’s most popular sport.

Skip Bayless on Johnny Manziel in the NFL
Johnny Manziel has everything the Houston Texans could want in a quarterback, says Skip Bayless. What Tebow kept pulling off late in games for the 2011 Denver Broncos, Manziel will make happen for all four quarters of NFL games. Manziel has Tebow's miracle-making will, electrified by far more quickness, speed, accuracy, radar and football IQ. Manziel has Tebow's rare intangibles heightened by rarer tangibles.

NFL Women’s Summit long on ambition, short on substance
The NFL held its first ever "Women’s Summit" on Thursday morning. The setting was lovely — the ornate Beaux Arts Julia Morgan Ballroom atop the Merchants Exchange Building in San Francisco’s Financial District. The room was packed, primarily with women, which is a rare event at a Super Bowl function. But there would be no discussion of the NFL’s Great Women Problem. The bubbling, troubling issues that underlie the statistics about how many "women’s style" jerseys are sold, about what percentage of the NFL audience is women.

Montee Ball is the latest NFL player arrested over allegations of domestic violence
NFL free agent running back Montee Ball, a former draft pick of the Denver Broncos, was arrested Friday after allegedly pushing his girlfriend into a table at a Hampton Hotel in Madison, Wisconsin. Ball was charged with substantial battery by Madison police.