It’s slow time in Bengaldom. Cincinnati is out of the playoffs. Coaches and players have departed for hearth and home. Free agency and the draft are still months away, and speculation on either is hindered by the many undeclared juniors in the draft class, and the knowledge that lots of potential free agents will be re-signed prior to March 1.
So, what’s a Bengals fan to do with his time on playoff weekend? WDR suggests rooting for Joey Porter and the Dolphins. Kirk says all that need be said about that idea (and passes along some Brian Orapko vids, too.) No, if you’re looking for someone to back in the playoffs this year, my vote has to go to the Baltimore Ravens. Why? Two words:
Yeah, I know. Willie stuck it to his old mates back in week 1, hanging out of the Ravens sideline with their defensive coaches and basically giving away the Bengals’ offensive store. But as it turned out, the Bengals were going nowhere fast in 2008, making Anderson’s treachery immaterial. And really, who can blame the guy? After 12 mostly awful years with the Bengals, in which he does nothing but deliver Pro-Bowl-caliber play while being a force for good in a fractious locker room, he’s unceremoniously dumped by management after he balks at their attempt to nickle-and-dime him.
I’ve had good and bad words about Willie over the years. At times, he took his self-appointed role as locker room spokesman a bit too far, crossing the line from “Big Willie” to “Big Mouth Willie.” And I thought the front office’s decision to extend him over Eric Steinbach back in 2006 a poor one. But no Bengals fan has any cause to complain about Willie’s play. Healthy or hurt, he was out there. In 12 seasons, he missed 11 games, nine of which came in 2007. This season, against the predictions of Bengals doctors and trainers who pronounced him finished, Anderson appeared in 14 regular-season games, starting 11, for Baltimore.
With all due respect to WDR, if you want an “in your face!” to Mike Brown and The Family, I can’t think of a better one than Willie winning a ring with another AFC North club, while the Bengals’ own right tackle spot (sadly) lies in ruins because of bad calls by the front office.