Jan 5, 2013; Houston, TX, USA; Cincinnati Bengals coach Marvin Lewis during the AFC wild card playoff game against the Houston Texans at Reliant Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee/Image of Sport-USA TODAY Sports

The Culture Change that Turned the Bengals into Winners


Marvin Lewis had the chance to walk away from what had become one of the most dysfunctional franchises in professional sports. But after a 4-12 season in 2010, and pressure from those close to him to leave the Cincinnati Bengals and restart his coaching career elsewhere, Lewis instead chose to not only stay in Cincinnati, but rebuild the franchise that was heading into one of its worst periods in its long history.

Dan Wetzel of Yahoo Sports did a fascinating piece on how Lewis nearly left the Bengals in 2010, but decided to come back and work with owner Mike Brown to change the bruised image of the franchise, and

Owner and coach had a meeting. They decided rather than separate, they’d reunite and apply the lessons they’ve learned in creating a losing team. And together, they’d change. Everything.

 “I believed in him and he believed in me that we could get this right,” Lewis said. “I restarted here. A lot of coaches have to move. I was basically able to start again here, [to] restart in the same spot.”

 He didn’t waste the opportunity, cleaning house that offseason, empowering a core group of character guys and riding the unexpected positive effects of the NFL lockout that offseason to rewire the entire franchise.

“The lockout was the best thing,” Lewis said. “The lockout took this franchise back out of the muck. It was like an exorcism. It was really good.”


But Lewis couldn’t do it on his own. He needed a strong leadership presence from his veteran players, and he was fortunate enough to have that:

In the past, everything would’ve splintered. Instead, a group of team leaders, including Andrew Whitworth, Frostee Rucker, Domata Peko and Robert Geathers showed up in Lewis’ office for a meeting.

It started with concern but soon, mostly due to a speech by Whitworth, you could say the new Bengals were born. What Lewis had wanted to surround himself with was showing itself.

Carson Palmer got out of Cincinnati while he could. (Getty)”We just kind of said, ‘you can sit around and complain about the situation we are in or we can say, we have no excuses, no reason to doubt, everyone thinks we can’t do it anyway so let’s go out and win football games,'” Whitworth said.


Make sure to read the entire article, as it a humbling reminder as to just how far the Bengals franchise has come, as they’re now on the cusp of becoming a legitimate threat to make it to the Super Bowl.



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