T. J. Houshmandzadeh blasts Bengals culture during his time with the team

The wide receiver played in Cincinnati from 2001 to 2008.
Cincinnati Bengals v Pittsburgh Steelers
Cincinnati Bengals v Pittsburgh Steelers / Rick Stewart/GettyImages

These days, the culture within the Cincinnati Bengals organization is pretty good. The team has an established owner, a well-respected head coach, a star quarterback and a plethora of other talented players at key positions. The team has made two AFC Championship games and one Super Bowl in the last half decade, and the expectations are high again heading into the 2024 NFL season.

So, as the kids say these days, the vibes are pretty immaculate in Cincinnati currently. However, that wasn't always the case. There were some rough seasons in the past, especially in the early 2000s when wide receiver T.J. Houshmandzadeh was a member of the team.

Houshmandzadeh played for the Bengals from 2001 to 2008. During that time, the Bengals made the playoffs just once, and they lost in the Wild Card Round to the rival Pittsburgh Steelers when they did. The Bengals also only had a winning record once in that span. We did mention that they were some tough years, right?

Houshmandzadeh calls out the former culture in Cincinnati

Unsurprisingly, the culture within the Bengals organization during that period was far from ideal, and Houshmandzadeh recently called out the culture of the organization during his time with the team.

“You really delve into the ‘Why weren’t we good?’” Houshmandzadeh said during a recent appearance on the NFL Players Second Acts podcast, via the Bengals Wire. “It’s the off the field. It’s the lack of discipline. It’s the complete lack of respect and structure of the guys on the team…We did what we wanted to do. When I first got to Cincinnati, we didn’t even stay in hotels for home games.”

This information isn't super surprising given the Bengals' struggles during that point in time, but it's still jarring to hear.

After his time in Cincinnati, Houshmandzadeh went on to spend time with the Seattle Seahawks, Oakland Raiders and Baltimore Ravens. His lone Pro Bowl appearance came as a member of the Bengals in 2007, and he was also named to the team's 40th Anniversary Team that same year.

It might be difficult for Bengals fans to reflect on those lean years, but the good news is that the team has turned the corner and appears to be in a much better place culture-wise than it was when Houshmandzadeh was suiting up in the orange-and-black.