I recently had the opportunity to sit down with Bengals rookie sensation Carl Lawson for an exclusive interview.
We discussed so much—his desire to improve as a run stopper, to break sack records, and his appreciation of numerous players in the NFL, including some (gasp) Pittsburgh Steelers.
You can watch the interview here:
Some things from the interview surprised me, because they didn’t reflect the losing mentality some have associated with the Bengals franchise.
The first thing that stood out was that he wasn’t particularly angry toward or obsessed with the Pittsburgh Steelers. He seemed not to care about the past—so focused was he on his own future success.
”I don’t have any negative feelings towards the Steelers,” he said. “The only have negative feelings towards the Steelers when we play, and that’s every other team that we play. I’ve never been a guy who just straight up hated different teams. I’ve always been a fan of different players around the league.”
In fact, Carl Lawson has respect for Mike Tomlin and his staff. You heard me. Of course he does, and I do too, because they know how to win.
”I think Mike Tomlin and them, they’re great guys, a great staff,” Lawson said. “And I’m not really saying this because I’m a Steelers fan or anything. [Rather it’s that] I’ve always been a fan of players and the way organizations run themselves.”
Furthermore, Lawson admires decisions the Steelers have made, including the decision to cut a legendary player he looks up to, James Harrison.
”I kinda understand the whole thing with James Harrison, because [the Steelers] are not a pass rushing defense,” Lawson said. “Their outside linebackers are more coverage and do-it-all kinda guys. So they don’t need those old school Steeler linebackers to come off the edge and create terror off the edge. They can create it through blitzes, disguises, and Cameron Heyward and those guys up front.”
The second thing I noticed is that, in a word, Carl Lawson is “determined.”
For instance, he lost his teeth on an attempted sack of Cleveland Browns quarterback DeShone Kizer. But that didn’t upset him at all. Rather, he was upset it affected his season stats. I’m so vain that I would’ve stopped the game to take care of my chompers.
But for Lawson, winning comes before everything else.
“I was really mad because they took away a sack/forced fumble,” Lawson said. “They didn’t want to challenge it because it was fourth and ten. My teeth, I know I can get those back, but you can’t get that sack back.”
So what about the much-hyped Bengals rookie sack record held by his teammate, Carlos Dunlap?
While walking out of his gym like a cowboy who just wrestled a cow-eater into submission, Lawson told us that the Bengals rookie sack record means nothing to him, because he has his eyes set on the big prize: the NFL sack record.
“I didn’t care about the Bengals rookie record,” he said. “The record I care about is either a franchise record or an all-time sack record. Those are the only two I’m chasing.”
Now that’s the attitude we need from our young players.
Lawson isn’t upset about anything, not even the fact that the Steelers passed over him in the first round or that just about every team (including the Bengals) passed over him about three times, as he was drafted with the 116th pick overall. Instead, his attitude is that he’s currently on a team that will help him succeed.
“I am happy to be drafted by the Bengals, because they rush their edge rushers,” he said.
Clearly his emotional interior is as muscular as his physique.
So. will Lawson’s immense talent and winning attitude put the Bengals over the top the way Von Miller led the Denver Broncos to a championship?
That might be asking too much, but if the entire team has this attitude, I promise you Cincinnati will be a contender every year without fail.