Thanksgiving is a time to gather with friends and family, and remember what you have to be thankful for in life. Then after it’s all over, it’s time to go battle crowds to get your Christmas shopping done. In the spirit of the giving thanks part, here is what I’m thankful for when it comes to the 2017 Cincinnati Bengals.
- A.J. Green: Few things on this team are better than having one of the most talented receivers in the NFL today. Green may not be the most flashy player, but he quietly goes out there and does his job.
Green had a rare moment of frustration against the Jaguars a few weeks ago, but even then he showed that on top of being a great football player and juggler, he is also proficient in putting guys in a choke hold.
Green isn’t putting up career number by any means this season, but the fact he can make that game changing play at any moment is something we should all be thankful for.
- Rejuvenated defensive line: The Bengals’ defensive line had grown stale the past few years. Geno Atkins and Carlos Dunlap have been fantastic, but it was the other players who just couldn’t seem to carry their weight. This offseason the team went out and made it a point to address that issue. They drafted Carl Lawson, Jordan Willis and Ryan Glasgow, and they traded for Chris Smith from the Jaguars. Andrew Billings also returned after missing all of his rookie season with an injury. These players knocked under performing guys like Will Clarke off the team. Now most of these guys play a good chunk of the snaps, and it is obvious the defensive line is better for it.
- Players being great people off the field: During this time of year, it is hard not to be thankful for the people who give back. There are two Bengals in particular who have been acknowledged for giving back to the community. Andy Dalton and Dunlap have both won the NFLPA Community MVP of the Week award this season. Dunlap has also been nominated for this year’s Art Rooney Sportsmanship Award.
Dalton won his NFLPA award in Week 8 for his foundation’s Night in the Jungle event, which raised $30,000 dollars for to financially assist families of seriously ill and physically challenged children. Dalton and his wife Jordan put on the event, which involved several family-friendly events for children to take part in at Paul Brown stadium. Dalton even spent an hour throwing touchdown passes to kids, and meeting with families of children with special needs and chronic or critical illnesses. There was also a tailgate-themed dinner for everyone to enjoy.
Dunlap won his award in Week 9 for his on-going anti-bullying campaign. Dunlap is having kids read “Malik, The Difference Maker,” which is a children’s book written by a by a local Cincinnati author. He is then having the kids fill out a questionnaire about the book while they meet with him to discuss what they have learned about bullying over pizza. He has also taken this campaign on the road to cities like Cleveland, Pittsburgh and most recently Jacksonville when the Bengals played these teams. Dunlap was also chosen by the team as the best representation of sportsmanship, for which they nominated him for the Art Rooney Sportsmanship Award.
Both of these players have been doing great things off the field for a few years now, and it is great they are getting recognized for it.
What are you thankful for this season?