Paul Daugherty has been an Enquirer sports columnist since 1994 and has been chronicling Cincinnati sports since 1988. He has covered almost every major sporting event in America, as well as five Summer Olympics. Along the way, he has been named one of the country's top-5 sports columnists four times, and Ohio columnist of the year on seven different occasions. Last year, he was voted 2nd-best sports columnist in the country, by the Associated Press Sports Editors.
Terrell Owens has his own, peculiar brand of Attention Deficit Disorder. When he feels lacking in attention, he does something screwy. When he played for San Francisco, he called 49ers quarterback Jeff Garcia a homosexual. When he played in Philly, he fought openly with Donovan McNabb, before deciding the contract he signed wasn't fair. That doesn't count the look-at-me touchdown poses, or stomping on the star at Texas Stadium.
This time, T.O. tried to kill himself. No, wait. He didn't. He mixed too many painkillers with his vitamins and "got a little out of it,'' he said. When his publicist called the paramedics, the pill bottle was empty, and T.O. was downing the last two. They asked him if he was trying to harm himself. He said he was.
On Wednesday afternoon, Owens called a press conference to say it was all a big misunderstanding. "It's very unfortunate for it to go from an allergic reaction to a suicide attempt,'' he decided.
Yeah, hard to argue with that. And this:
I'm listening to ESPN Radio Wednesday afternoon. They treated this like it was the Kennedy assassination. Sports talkers suddenly became smart about depression and bipolar disorder. "Experts'' such as the unlistenable Michael Irvin were brought in to testify. Nothing else happened in sports Wednesday.
It's a little too cynical, even for me, to suggest Owens created this to re-enter the spotlight he so desperately needs. How does T.O. top himself now? OWENS ADMITS MOONWALK WAS FAKED. What gets me is the hype that surrounds everything this guy does. Now, it's a perfect storm: Self-absorbed player works for self-important football team covered by self-important World Wide Leader in Sports. Whatever Owens did or didn't do to himself, can we please tone down the coverage?
Live big. Rationally.
closing the book on Henry, Thurman etc.
I got close to 150 e-mails off the Tuesday column regarding Odell Thurman's OVI arrest. Probably 75 percent agreed w/what I wrote, namely that Lewis should sit Henry Sunday, if the coach is serious when he says bad off-field behavior "is not what we (the Bengals) stand for.'' Of the other 25 percent, most argued that Lewis is here to win games, not hand out merit badges. Here are a few points about that, that have been overlooked:
When you have a history of poor decisions off the field, you aren't reliable on it.
When you start bringing in guys of questionable character, they tend to hang out together, reinforcing the problem. Anyone think it was coincidence that Henry was with Thurman? If you allow it to continue, you have lots of guys behaving this way. That's not conducive to winning.
What if Henry had been there Saturday night before the game, and not Sunday night? Is there any reason to believe he's just a Sunday night partier? All those who today say give him a break would be calling him selfish and wanting him cut. Remember Stanley Wilson?
Is it coincidence that the best, most important players on this team -- Carson Palmer, Rudi Johnson, Chad Johnson, T.J., Simmons, Willie A. and on and on, have never had a problem of any kind? Character and performance are linked. Lewis knows this, because every vet he has brought in here, all the way back to Kevin Hardy, has been a good person and a good player. A winner, in other words. Is Chris Henry a winner?
I'm not big on moralizing in the paper, because in most respects I'm no better or worse than those I write about. But I do think ill of those who disrespect their talent and their teammates, who consider the law something to be danced around or ignored, who think playing a game makes them immune to behaving properly. Who believe second chances don't come with a shelf life.
It was Lewis who said this sort of behavior isn't what the Bengals stand for. It was an easy statement to make as it pertained to Thurman; the coach knew Odell was gone. It's tougher with Henry. Sitting Henry a game won't cure his immunity to responsibility. But it would make a statement about what flies in Bengaldom, and what doesnt. And that would help create a winning attitude that would last.
And oh, by the way: Receiver is probably the easiest position to fill on an NFL roster. The Bengals by themselves have enough good ones to stock another team.
Bengals 24, Patriots 21. Live big.
A passage from The Pyramid of Success, John Wooden's manifesto that Marvin Lewis has used to guide and motivate the Bengals this year:
"The choices that you make in your personal life affect your professional life. They are not two separate entities. Leaders who act as if they are will likely bring difficulties upon themselves.''
It's beyond foolish, what happened to Odell Thurman early Monday morning. As for Chris Henry, what's he even doing in the Escalade? I'll write for Tuesday's paper on this, after listening this afternoon to Marvin Lewis and talking to other players. The obvious: The bengals can't cut these two. They can sit Henry. The pair are mocking their head coach. They're embarrassing the team, the city and themselves. Enough. It's funny how a coach can expect so much discipline on the field and tolerate so little off it.
Lots of talk lately about fan rowdiness at Bengals games. The easiest solution is to ban beer sales, but that'll never happen given the NFL's billon-dollar deal with Coors. What it comes down to is simple civility, i.e. being considerate to others. We don't do considerate in this country anymore. Nowhere is that more obvious than at a sporting event, where the Up Yours mentality rages. I'm going to slop beer on you, I'm going to tear down these goalposts, I'm going to stand the whole game, I'm going to drop F-bombs in front of your 8-year-old. I paid for the seat. It's my right.
The big problem w/fans now is they feel they're part of the game. They're not. Buying a ticket allows you to spectate, not participate. You're no more a part of the action than the time clock. The Bengals wouldnt need a phone line for all this nonsense if fans just behaved like human beings.
One of the more ridiculous things I hear fans say is they're "defending our turf,'' as if it's London in 1940. No, you're not. You're rooting for a collection of individuals who live here 6 months of the year and wouldnt know the mayor if he handed them the keys to a Benz. So please, if you go to games, cheer like crazy, but respect the folks around you. It's just football.
Bengals 20, Steelers 13. Live sober.
Now I know why Schlichter's in the stir. Oddsmakers are so often so accurate, it's scary. The last line I saw on UC-Ohio State was 29 1/2. I'd have bet my house the Bearcats would have covered: Tressel doesnt like running it up on his former assistants; the Bucks were ripe for a letdown, in between Texas and Penn State; and UC isn't drop-dead awful... at halftime, had you taken the points, you were spending your money; after 3 quarters, you were counting it. At the end, you were turning over the deed to your house. Bucks cover, on the nose. Amazing.
To those again complaining I was too hard on UC: This can work 1 of 2 ways. I can treat them like the big-time program they aspire to be, and hold them to that standard. Or I can shrug and believe like lots of people around here that they belong in the MAC. I don't think they want to be patronized and covered perpetually like little brother. That's why I don't join the chorus of folks thinking a 30-point loss is acceptable, because the Bearcats played well for a half.
Great stories the last 2 days in the New York Times, about Louisville's football resurgence and the exploitation of high school kids playing football on national TV. Cards turned it around quickly by hiring a charismatic, offense-minded coach, John L. Smith, and keeping the best high school players in K-Y at home. UC is going to lose its share of local kids to the Big 10... but no reason to let a Shaun Alexander or the Wynn kid escape to Alabama and Florida. As for high school kids playing on ESPN: Once they've done that, how do they find joy in simply competing on a Friday night in front of a few thousand people? And does a bunch of kids from southern California really need to be flying to Ohio for 1 football game? Where does it end?
Bengals over Brownies, 27-13. Live big.
tales from Chadville
Chad Johnson and I were signing his book I Can't Be Stopped at Books and More in Beavercreek Tuesday when a kid walked up and said, "I have you and Carson on my fantasy team this week. You guys better do well.'' Chad pulled out his cell phone, punched the speed dial and said to the kid, "tell him yourself.'' The kid looked like he'd just seen an alien. Later,Chad dials up fellow author Terrell Owens and informs T.O. he's at his own book signing...
Last week's signing at Joseph-Beth in Norwood, Chad got on the mic and asked for someone to bring him a #1 meal from McDonald's. He autographed the bag. He also donated 2 tickets to the Bengals-Falcons game at PBS, so "2 more people can see how I'm gonna embarrass D'Angelo Hall.''
We sign on Main Street in Wilmington this Tuesday, 5-7 p.m.
It should have been strange, flying yesterday. But it wasn't. I should have paused for awhile, but I didn't. I should have lingered at the hotel TV, as they showed the widows and the widowers and the sons and the daughters, reading the names of the dead. But I had to pack. I had to brush my teeth. The hotel overcharged me for phone calls, the airport shuttle was idling in the driveway outside the lobby. I listened to a few names, then turned it off. I was in a hurry. I went to the airport in Kansas City. I listened for talk of 2001, heard none. I watched as passengers sat beneath TV monitors tuned to CNN and the coverage of the 5-year anniversary. A woman did a crossword, a man read the sports page. The names were still being called. They were in the Bs.
I drove home from CVG and put Springsteen's The Rising in the car CD player. I listened to Nothing Man and You're Missing. They made me shiver, but they always do, every time I've listened to them, for the past four years. Nothing different.
If not for the obvious reminders, it has seemed almost like just another day, and I am ashamed for that. I should have lingered, I should have watched. I should have remembered. We should never be too hurried or busy or selfishly preoccupied that we can't lend a piece of our day to those that deserve it, be they the poor, the hungry, the disabled. Or those who died Sept. 11, 2001, and those they left behind. It was a day that changed us forever. I will never forget again, and tonight I will pray.
for what it's worth...UC football
Sports writers arent supposed to root for or against the teams and people we write about. When I give you an opinion, it should be agenda-free, and almost always, it is. Contrary to some belief, I don't wake up in the morning with a voodoo doll of Adam Dunn or Mark Dantonio and a box of pins.
But I do pull a little for UC football.
Regular readers of my newspaper column might find that hard to believe. Understood. But I'd like nothing more than for the earnest, straight-shooting Dantonio to build a consistent winner in Clifton. One, I like the guy. Two, UC football is the biggest sports underdog in town. Three, if Bearcat football were widely popular, it would give me another regular writing option in the fall.
But I won't lead cheers. As I tell anyone who rips me in e-mail or in person, I don't create the reality; I reflect it. They play good, I write good. It's that simple. I'm not going to sugar a lousy loss. My integrity means more to me than someone's opinions of what I write.
That said, I felt bad for the Bearcats last night. And I will hope for them the rest of the year.
In my 18 years of watching the Bengals, this is the toughest crew to figure. So many ifs: Carson Palmer's knee, Sam Adams' durability, on paper a Murderer's Row schedule etc. They could go 8-8, 12-4 or anything in between. A good difference for them, and what sets the Bengals apart from most, is depth, nearly everywhere. Injuries are a fact of life across 17 weeks, but the Bengals seem better equipped to handle them than most. I also believe this defense is vastly underrated, especially by national types who plug into the stereotype instead of looking closely at who's here and who came in. Plus, it's my feeling that this is the Bengals' time, or at least the beginning of it. The NFL is built for teams to rise and fall... holding greatness together in a league of salary caps, injuries, schedule rigging and draft order is next to impossible. The Bengals window is upon them. When I pick seasons, I like to take them in 3-5 game chunks. Clip and save, so you can rag me in January. Here goes:
Bengals start 3-1 with wins over KC and the Browns and either the Steelers or New England.
They lose 2 of the next 4, most likely the 2 on the road, at Tampa and Baltimore. If they steal a win in B-more, they can take a home loss to the Panthers. The key for the Ravens is keeping Steve McNair upright for 17 weeks. He's a Bengal-killer.
5-3 at the halfway point.
The next 5 are crucial, because the Bengals should be favored in all of them. A 5-0 run would put them in great shape for the final, brutal 3. It's hard to win 5 straight in the NFL. I see 4-1, w/a stumble either at Cleveland or at home against San Diego... 9-4 w/3 to play.
If they win 2 of the last 3, everyone will be talking Super Bowl. I think they'll beat the Steelers here in Week 17, and get one of the other two, either at Denver or at Indy. The last week is always hard, because often one team is out of it, or so in it, they're resting everybody. But lets say 11-5. With wins over Pittsburgh, either New England or Carolina and either Indy or Denver, they'll have beaten three of everybody's favorite Super Bowl picks. And we'll all have something to talk about in January.
thanks for madieu
Here's something from Madieu Williams I didnt get into this Sunday's column... Williams is one of the more pensive, smart and introspective Bengals. We spent a lot of time yakking about "character'' issues on this team, not w/o reason. But the # of quality people far, far exceeds the problems. There is no better example of that than this guy. Here's what he said that I couldn't get in the column:
"Right before camp, I take a day by myself, sit down and reflect on how far I've come. We always worry about the next thing in football. The next play, the next game. It's good to reflect. You don't have time during the season to sit back and pat yourself on the back. But you do feel proud of yourself. I'm also thankful and very blessed for the opportunity. And I never take it for granted.''
Live healthy, Madieu Williams.
shameless book plug
I wrote a book with Chad Johnson titled I Can't Be Stopped. It's Chad's story up to now, including what happened at halftime against the Steelers last January, back through his growing up, which was anything but normal and not at all what you'd picture. The guy defies labels, in all respects, and he isn't who you think he is. We're signing the book Tuesday night, 9/5, 7-9 pm at Joseph-Beth booksellers at Rookwood, Smith-Edwards exit off I-71...
andre agassi story and other stuff
Agassi was a rising star in the early 90s, when he came to the ATP at Kings Island. He was also a shaggy-haired pain in the rear. One day he blew off an interview w/me, to go eat lunch at fuddrucker's off fields-ertel road. A kid in my neighborhood had asked me a few days earlier if I could arrange a meeting with her and Andre. I chuckled and said no. As soon as Agassi blew me off, I called her: "If you want to meet Andre, get as many of your friends as you can and go to Fuddrucker's ASAP.'' She did. In a press conference after a match a few days later, someone asked Agassi about the tragedy of being famous. He said something like, "Yeah, the other day I'm eating lunch and like 10 little girls came up all at once and asked for my autograph...''
Don't flush the Reds yet. 13 of their last 25 are against Pittsburgh and the Cubs.
Nice West Coast trip from Big Donkey: 1 RBI, 3 scored, .206, typical nonchalance in left. All that for $7.5 mil.
Junior drove in 2 out there, but at least he scored 8. Harang and Arroyo combined 6-11 since end of June.
Steelers karma isn't good, and that's good... Ben to miss opener with appendectomy... Cowher rumored leaving... Hines Ward hobbled... could Bengals fans be laughing loudly by New Year's Eve?
How does Oklahoma only beat UAB 24-17? If UC wants more fans, only winning will do it. No one expects them to beat OSU in 2 weeks... a win over Pitt here Friday is mandatory...college football games already last longer than marriages, now they've added replay. Brilliant...
This just in: Reds announce Have a Pulse Day. Anyone over the age of 3 days who can prove he's living gets in for half price the rest of the year. Team hopes for a couple sellouts. Live big at GASP.