Three years after Marvin Lewis’ dismissal, the Cincinnati Bengals are playing for a Super Bowl title. That may come off as a slight, but what’s a mansion without a solid foundation?
The Marvin Lewis era was defined by not being good enough. Now that his former team is maximizing its potential, his work over 16 years should be commended instead of criticized. This turnaround wouldn’t have been possible without him showing the organization that winning in any consistent fashion was possible.
But Lewis is as candid as they come, as Yahoo! Sports’ Frank Schwab found out when asking him if he deserves recognition for helping the team get to where they are now.
“I’m not taking credit for that. That’s not my place,” Lewis said. “What they did is about them and their hard work.”
Lewis is right, of course. What head coach Zac Taylor has done on his own is nothing short of spectacular. Taylor’s contrasting style to Lewis’ rugged old school methodology has gotten a completely new Bengals roster to the third Super Bowl in franchise history. But Taylor’s coaching and leadership alone hasn’t gotten the team this far. The front office’s evolution has played an equally large role in all of this. Taylor had a part in that, but Lewis breaking ground in that department long before him cannot be forgotten. And who knows if management would’ve been able to do what Taylor wanted had Lewis not been there first?
“My thing was to suggest we do things differently. Not demand it,” Lewis said. “Give credit to Katie [Blackburn, Bengals executive vice president], Troy [Blackburn, Bengals vice president] and Mike [Brown, Bengals president] for taking action and improving things for the players. Hopefully I left it better than I found it.”
There’s no doubt about that last sentence. But don’t take my word for it; potential Hall of Fame right tackle Willie Anderson said it best.
“Marvin started the new era of the Bengals,” Anderson told Schwab. “Marvin gets nowhere near the credit he deserves. He brought us up to standard.”
He really did. That of course was the argument to keep Lewis around for eternity because of what life was like before him. Fear of progress doesn’t get you far into the postseason, but we can look back at Lewis’ tenure with a smile, knowing his work pioneering and trailblazing laid the foundation of what Taylor and the front office have successfully built on top of.
Even if Lewis doesn’t want to publicly admit it.