More fun with the Bengals

Sports blotter: "Some things never change" edition
By MATT TAIBBI  |  May 7, 2008

More Bengal fun
It was weird, wasn’t it, that brief period when the Bengals didn’t suck? Looking back now, it almost feels like a dream: that crazy afternoon in Foxboro a few years ago when God-humping Jon Kitna took over for Carson Palmer and nearly slew the Pats, completing pass after pass to Ocho Cinco and T.J. Houshmandzadeh, before finally botching the game with an end-zone interception to Troy Brown. Yes, the Bengals almost hung with the Pats — recently! The same Bengals who lost 10,384 games in the ’90s, who sucked so egregiously that they weren’t even lovable losers in the New Orleans Ain’ts mold. The same team whose owner for years wouldn’t pay $11 for a $100 wideout, whose best player for a statistically meaningful period of time was Jeff Blake.

They had a good quarterback and real stars for a while. Their coach, in defiance of local tradition, wasn’t an openly drooling moron pacing the sidelines during games in desperate prayer for accidental death. They had Rudi, Chad, T.J., Carson, and a future. Things were looking up.

Then they reverted to the old Bengal paradigm, refusing to pay for talented guard Eric Steinbach and other free agents while trying to build through the draft. Their draft strategy seemed to hinge upon taking players who were undervalued talent-wise due to off-field injury or character concerns. Hence decisions to bring in such excellent citizens as Frostee Rucker (spousal battery), A.J. Nicholson (assault, burglary, vandalism, and stealing shit from teammates), Matthias Askew (disorderly conduct, resisting arrest), Reggie McNeal (resisting arrest, elbowing police), Chris Henry (weed, gun, teenie chicks, DUI), Ahmad Brooks (drugs), and so on.

This singular strategy led to a brief flash of explosive athleticism on the field, followed by a forced march of field sobriety tests, chicks popping up with black eyes, and crumpled cars wrapped around telephone poles. Now, it’s completely blown up in their faces, with Henry — athletically, an emerging star — booted off the team following his fifth arrest since 2005, and numerous other players headed the same way. The latest appears to be Brooks, a big, rangy linebacker from Virginia who was once a fan favorite to be picked by the Pats via the supplemental draft.

Brooks clanged a drug test in college, and has had other problems, but the Bungles took a flyer on him anyway because of his superior athletic skills. He spent two mostly unproductive years with the team (including a trip to the IR in this past season) and now is in the soup for allegedly punching one Destiny Rosich, of Florence, Kentucky, when Rosich apparently tried to intervene in a fight between a neighbor and Brooks.

Rosich’s kids were outside during the loud argument, and she claims she approached Brooks “nicely” and asked him to take it somewhere else, at which point he cold-cocked her in the eye, knocking her out and sending her to the hospital. Rosich eventually signed a sworn statement and Brooks now faces a fourth-degree misdemeanor and jail time.

The Bengals haven’t released Brooks yet — probably because team spokesman Jack Brennan is still hoarse from explaining the Henry fiasco and trying to move reporters off the emerging Chad Johnson mess. When Brennan’s throat recovers, bet on Brooks to get canned. In the meantime, he gets 60 points for punching a woman in front of her kids. Asshole.

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