Chess is like football, only without the dice.
Spiegel Online lists this as one of German football’s (Soccer) greatest sayings, but it just might catch on around the Cincinnati Bengals’ locker room, where a chessboard is on prominent display, as Bengals.com’s Jake Rice writes.
“(The chessboard) has been there since training camp,” Bengals’ quarterback Joe Burrow said during Tuesday’s news conference. “Me and Thaddeus (Moss) started playing, then a couple of guys have cycled in and out, playing some games, a good little locker room camaraderie thing.”
And it is that camaraderie that sets this Bengals’ team apart from those teams of the last 31 years (Cincinnati has not won a playoff game since 1991).
“You can’t tell these guys that they can’t do anything,” special teams coordinator and assistant head coach Darrin Simmons said in Wednesday’s news conference.
“These guys believe in each other, they believe in what we’re doing, and that’s half of it. We’ve been bought in for a couple of years. We just haven’t had all the pieces in place. Now, some of the acquisitions we’ve made this past year, they’ve come in (and) shown their worth … it’s a really, really good locker room.”
Simmons has seen his fair share of locker rooms. He is the Bengals’ longest tenured coach and is now in his 19th season. He has been a part of eight playoff losses, going back to 2005.
Running back Joe Mixon, who finished third in the league with 1,205 yards rushing, has not had the privilege of experiencing playoff football at the NFL level. But he knows that there is something different about this locker room.
“Everybody is bought in,” Mixon said, “and that’s one thing leading up into this playoff game, you just see around the locker room, on the practice field, the vibe around here is different. I’ve never been around it, it’s very special to be around and it’s really a privilege to be around these guys.”
So yes, maybe chess is like football - only without the dice.
Cornerback Chidobe Awuzie is the resident expert on the game, but Burrow is not content with being number two. He’s coming after Awuzie the same way he’s come after every cornerback he’s faced this year.
“I’ve put a little pressure on,” said Burrow, who has played since elementary school. “We’ve only played twice, and I had to get a little better from the first one and then started to put a little pressure on him, I think the next game we have might be a little different.”
Hopefully, the next football game will be a little different, too.