There’s never been any doubt that Andrew Whitworth is a true leader. Even though he’s leaving the Cincinnati Bengals to join the Los Angeles Rams, he’ll always be a Bengal, deep down. Eric Winston said as much last week, too.
Further proof of that came when Whitworth spoke with Bengals.com’s Geoff Hobson and told him that he plans to meet with struggling offensive tackle Cedric Ogbuehi, who’s thought to be taking over Whitworth’s role as left tackle.
The first people Whitworth called after he signed his deal were Ogbuehi and fellow third-year tackle Jake Fisher. Fisher is expected to take over the starting right tackle duties in 2017.
“Time to play,” Whitworth told them on the call, per Hobson. And, Whitworth plans to continue helping Ogbuehi. He will be meeting with him in L.A. in a few days. Ogbuehi is living and training out in L.A. and Whitworth is new to the area, not knowing many people who live out west. Hopefully, they’ll spend a lot of time together this offseason before Ogbuehi heads back to Cincinnati.
Hobson writes Whitworth has also spoken with and had “a couple of heart-to-hearts” with quarterback Andy Dalton as well as A.J. Green.
“I hope Bengaldom understands,” Whitworth said. “I’ll still be in there pulling for the Bengals… I’m still pushing guys to be the best they can be, to be as successful as they can. I didn’t work that hard and that long not to see them have success. I’m here, man. I’m still that guy. I didn’t do it because they were on my team. I did it because of who I am. I believe in those guys.”
All of that is just part of the reason why the Bengals will badly miss Whitworth in 2017. He is a great guy, great leader and someone who goes above and beyond for his teammates, present and past. Any debate as to whether Whitworth is angered by the Bengals’ decision or unhappy with owner Mike Brown can be put to rest, as Whitworth also expressed the exact opposite.
“I’m grateful and humbled by how much he (Mike Brown) has done for me, my wife, and our kids,” Whitworth said. “Just because you leave doesn’t mean you stop loving … After my career I’ll always consider myself a Bengal. I hope to come back and retire a Bengal and do it the right way.
“We’re not mad, we’re not bitter. It didn’t work out. You know what? For either side to not get the deal done there has to be a little thought in you that it was OK not to get it done. That’s just the nature of life. There had to be a little part of us that was OK to leave and a little part of them that it was OK if it didn’t work out. It doesn’t mean you don’t love each other. I love Mike to death. I think the world of him, I’m not mad at him.”
Whitworth may not be on the Bengals' roster in 2017, or ever again, but, he'll always be a Bengal... And hopefully, he does retire in Cincinnati like he suggested. Maybe he'll even become a Bengals coach one day down the road.
As a side note, Ogbuehi has been training hard in Los Angeles this offseason and even worked out with Terrell Owens.