FOXBOROUGH — The popular joke circulating through Cincinnati a few years ago suggested the official wardrobe of Marvin Lewis’s Bengals featured anything with stripes.
Like the stripes on their orange-and-black football uniforms.
And the black-and-white stripes on their prison uniforms.
But the inference was clear: Given the number of Bengals that had been arrested for various indiscretions under Lewis’s watch, there were serious questions about the coach’s ability to control his players.
Now, in the wake of the Bengals’ 38-24 loss to the New England Patriots Sunday, Lewis once again is being scrutinized for his inability to control his players, although this time the long arm of the law is not involved.
According to various sources, Bengals players actually approached Lewis after the game wondering why diva wideouts Terrell Owens and Chad Ochocinco were in the locker room instead of on the field when quarterback Carson Palmer attempted a Hail Mary with one second remaining before halftime.
Lewis’ explanation to the press was that Ochocinco scurried off the field to get an intravenous, something the coach claimed is a regular occurrence with No. 85 at halftime of games.
As for Owens, Lewis said T.O. needed something checked. He would not be more specific.
Coaches being vague to the media is as much a part of NFL life as stomping and cursing on the sideline. No big deal.
But if the suggestions are true that some of his own players wanted to know what was going on with Owens and Ochocinco, there must once again be concerns about Lewis’s ability to control his troops.
There is no doubt this Bengals team probably is the most talented edition in years. But if the inmates start running the asylum, Lewis could very well be in trouble.
Randy’s Not Dandy
While Randy Moss’ “poor me” rant after Sunday’s victory probably made him even less popular than ever before, don’t be fooled into thinking his Patriot teammates despise him as well.
Such a notion could not be further from the truth.
In fact, when the Pats gathered in their dressing room after the win over the Bengals, it was Moss who led his teammates in their victory cheer.
Quarterback Tom Brady, for one, might be Moss’s biggest fan and has stated his desire to have Moss return next season. The two men shared a laugh and a hug when they crossed paths during their respective post-game press conferences.
Having said that, Moss did not do himself any favours by speaking out the way he did. Between coach Bill Belichick and owner Robert Kraft, the Patriots have always preferred to keep such issues in-house instead of airing any dirty laundry in public.
Now here comes Moss, claiming he likely will not be back in New England after his contract runs out after this season. More unwanted controversy at Patriots Place.
When asked the state of his relationship with Kraft, Moss replied: “Fair.” Not actually a ringing endorsement, is it?
As this saga continues to unfold, keep a couple of things in mind.
First off, Moss never did say he “wanted” out of New England. He only insinuated that this likely would be his fate after the 2010 campaign.
Secondly, don’t expect Moss to dog it on the field. He is playing for a contract for next season. Randy likes money too much to flush it away by tanking his season.
No Cowardly Lion
Thumbs up to Detroit Lions coach Jim Schwartz for being a standup guy. Instead of whining about the call that stripped wideout Calvin Johnson of the winning touchdown in a 19-14 loss to the Chicago Bears, Schwartz said he would quit his job the day he started blaming officials for a loss. Not many coaches would do that.