CINCINNATI -- What did Cincinnati do to deserve this?
Small, Midwestern, right-of-Reagan river town. Wouldn't pat itself on the back if it had a third hand in its collarbone. Home of the last major league team to ban facial hair; local address for the only NFL team ever to have a coach appear postgame in a tiger-striped loincloth. Great look,
Cincinnati is also the town that unleashed
Will it work? Beats me.
Will it be fascinating? It'll be better than a barrel full of Freuds at a shrinks' convention.
You have two of the neediest players in the NFL inflicting their massive insecurities on the same team. Ochocinco was raised in the Liberty City area of Miami, by his grandmother. He didn't know his father; his mother left him with grandma when he was 5, before she moved to Los Angeles with Ochocinco's younger half brother.
According to his 2004 book,
There could be Olympic-quality sprints to Bengals coach
Ocho and T.O. could fracture a solid locker-room run successfully last season by born-again misfits and miscreants. Bengals president
Or maybe not.
Maybe, at 36, T.O. wants what money and fame can't buy. Maybe, at 32, Planet Ocho understands that without on-field triumph, his off-field act will wither. No one wants reality from a guy connected with a loser. Maybe for a season, each decides to play one for the team, believing that, ultimately, it will help them individually. Which, let's face it, is all either of them cares about anyway.
Owens is a 6-foot-3, 224-pound freak of physical nature. On a bad Buffalo team with a poor offensive line and a quarterback from Harvard, Owens caught 55 balls and averaged 15 yards a catch. If he could do that with
The Bengals signed Owens for one year, at a modest $2 million base salary, with incentives that could double his pay. The Bengals have most of the leverage. While it's obvious that the balky knee of
In his first year with a team, Owens isn't a major pain in the aspirations. And it wasn't as if his agent,
As for Planet Ocho, he has spent the offseason branding himself. His genius at self promotion knows no bounds. But he's not the most mature self-promoter on the planet. The wonder is if Ochocinco can keep his off-field fame in perspective and remain a Pro Bowl-quality receiver.
If it works, it's entertainment. If it doesn't, it's still entertainment. Sports have become a gargantuan reality show, played out under taxpayer-financed Big Tops, in front of millions on TV. What's more real than the NFL? Drugs, sex, fame, excess. Boys gone wild. HBO's
Mike Brown refers to himself as a "redeemer.'' His roster of second-chancers, last-dancers and shoulder chips makes that obvious:
Training camp at Boys-Will-Be-Boys Town opens Thursday morning. Everyone has a theory on how it will work out for the Bengals and their Two Amigos. No one knows for sure. Mike Brown's latest sociology experiment is about to begin, and it's going to be fascinating.