MJD's outstanding Shutdown Corner blog recently included a "sad but true" article on the Bengals' ongoing policy of ignoring character in football players. As I mentioned on Facebook earlier in the day, this team deserves no benefit of the doubt. None. From the ownership, to the team philosophy, to the development, to the lack of a backbone, to the players getting arrested at an alarming pace, to their annual trip down the rabbit hole once the season gets out of hand, it's the most embarrassing franchise in profession sports. The only fans left are obvious victims of "battered wife syndrome." Since the article was written Sunday morning, the Bengals drafted a running back who has been arrested five times.
But from the standpoint of the Cincinnati Bengals, with all the issues with character that they've had on their football team ... wouldn't you like to see more quotes in here like, "great motor, loves playing football, works hard on and off the field, never takes a play off, a tremendous natural leader, and stays out of trouble off the field"?
Instead, here's what they have so far:
1st round: Andre Smith, OT, Alabama
National Football Post: "Maturity is a concern, showed up at the NFL Combine overweight and left without warning; there are big red flags in that area." Pro Football Weekly: "Too soft-bodied and soft-minded. Does not play hard every down and effort is too inconsistent. Makes little effort after the initial block and too often gives up after taking one shot. Does not like to work and relies too much on his natural ability. Loves to eat, and his weight has fluctuated throughout his career. Lacks discipline and does not play smart." ... "Has not proven he can handle the trappings of success. Very immature. Questionable character. Turned off teams in interviews at the Combine with his lack of energy and soft temperament." ESPN: "We also have questions about whether the Bengals' locker room is a good fit for Smith -- a team with more leadership would have probably been a better fit."
2nd round: Rey Maualuga, LB, USC
Wikipedia: "Off the field his career started with occasional spirited and reckless partying that led to an October 2005 incident where he got into a fight at a Halloween party and was arrested for misdemeanor battery. He agreed in an arraignment diversion program that included counseling, Alcoholics Anonymous meetings and community service resulting in the charges being dismissed."
3rd round: Michael Johnson, DE, Georgia Tech:
National Football Post: "His production has never come close to matching his amazing athletic skill set. Takes too many plays off and lacks power and strength in his lower half." Pro Football Weekly: "Does not show a desire to play the run and can be blown off the line. Packed it in against better competition. Not a finisher." ESPN: "More importantly, there are concerns about his work ethic and dedication to improving his game." ... "There are some that question his physical and mental toughness."
And again, I stress, I'm not saying these are bad people. I'd invite any of them over for Christmas dinner, and if you only listed the negative qualities about anyone, you could paint a bleak picture of them. Obviously, they're all very talented, too.
My point is about the Cincinnati Bengals, the character problems that have plagued the team, and how they might occasionally want to think about that during the NFL draft.