It’s not an exaggeration to state that every football fan, local reporter, blogger and radio talk show host in Greater Cincinnati and its surrounding cities, has voiced their opinion on the Bengals Top 50, a list of the 50 greatest retired players in franchise history as voted upon by the fans and local media to commemorate the team’s 50th season in professional football.  Like every discussion involving a list such as this, the invariable debate surrounding the Bengals Top 50 amongst both fans and the media has been all about who was left off, who didn’t deserve a spot and whether someone was ranked too high or too low after all the votes were counted.  It has been a fascinating look at who the fans and the media who have covered the team determined what players were the franchise’s greatest in their first 49 years.

My book, Legends of the Jungle:  Introducing the Initial Candidates for a Potential Cincinnati Bengals Hall of Fame, attempts to do something similar to the Top 50 by creating a list of former Bengal players who deserve induction into a yet to be constructed Hall of Fame or Ring of Honor.  After extensively researching the team’s history and the players who contributed to the Bengals legacy, I took a deep, personal interest in the final reveal of the Top 50.  Now that I’ve had a chance to examine the final list, I, just like every other fan, reporter, blogger or talk show host who either is a fan or follows the Bengals for a living, have my own opinion on what the media and the fans got right and what they got wrong.

My analysis and thoughts regarding the Bengals Top 50 will come in two parts.  Part One  will focus on the full list of players who made the final 50, specifically making the case for why seven players who made the list need replacing.  In Part Two, I will name the seven players who should have made the list and reveal my personal Bengals Top 50.  But before I go headfirst into revising the Top 50, here are a few observations regarding the official list once all the votes were counted.


According to the Bengals, the Top 50 were the 50 players, regardless of their position, who received the most votes and was determined by a combined fan and media vote.  Over 160,000 fan votes accounted for 50 percent of the results with the other 50 percent coming from the votes of 24 media members who have covered or currently cover the team since they entered the AFL in 1968.  On the surface, the methodology used to decide the final rankings seemed fair and equitable.  Unfortunately, the Bengals Top 50 lacks the transparency necessary to make the final results authentic, on the level and to, most importantly, legitimize the list meant to honor the greatest retired players in team history.  At no point have the Bengals publicly disclosed who the 24 media members were that voted, leaving unanswered the question of whether or not the panel of 24 was balanced enough to insure that all 49 years of the franchise’s history were equally represented.  Additionally, the team has yet to release separately the final results of the fan vote and the verdict achieved by the media, a misstep that has created a justifiable speculation that the Top 50 is simply a list of the most popular players in Bengals history rather than a compilation of those individuals who had a substantial impact on the success of the franchise.  Revealing these two votes separately might help explain why some players, who either provided a great moment or had one or two excellent seasons, made the final cut over several players who exhibited a much longer and sustained career in a Bengals uniform.

There’s no question that from 1991-2002, the Cincinnati Bengals played, by most standards, some of the worst football in the history of the NFL.  Labeled by most fans and followers of the Bengals as “The Dark Ages”, the franchise sported a 55-137 won-loss record during those 12 years, the starting point of 14 seasons in which they failed to either reach the playoffs or have a winning season.  But despite finishing those 12 seasons with a combined .286 winning percentage, several Bengals, such as James Francis, tony McGee, Darnay Scott and Jeff Blake distinguished themselves with their stellar play on the field in an otherwise forgettable era of Cincinnati football.  Sadly, either the fans or the media who voted in the Top 50 chose to ignore these performances. leaving them off their lists, it seems, because they played on teams everyone would rather soon forget.  In the end, only three players from that era (Corey Dillon, Takeo Spikes and Carl Pickens) made the Top 50, an unfair and frankly inaccurate assessment of the quality of players who wore the Bengals uniform during what was a very trying time for both the fans and the franchise alike.

While promoting my book Legends of the Jungle, I’ve been asked by several reporters, radio talk show hosts and podcast moderators, what was my biggest surprise while researching the history of the Bengals as well as what players clearly established themselves as one of the team’s all-time greats.  Without hesitation, my answer has been the large number of outstanding and impactful offensive linemen, defensive linemen and linebackers who have played for the Bengals in the team’s first 49 years.  Of the 45 players who qualified as my initial candidates for a Cincinnati Bengals Hall of Fame, 14 were offensive linemen, seven were linebackers and four were defensive linemen.  After reviewing the Top 50, the fans and the media members who voted validated my research, naming eight offensive linemen, six linebackers and five defensive linemen to the franchise’s list of its all-time greatest retired players.  Some may feel that having the same of number of offensive linemen as wide receivers, linebackers as running backs and defensive linemen as tight ends and quarterbacks combined as the Bengals Top 50  does, isn’t befitting of a list of a team’s all-time greats.  In today’s fantasy football fueled NFL, some feel it doesn’t fit the definition of a successful franchise.  Here’s a newsflash to those who believe touchdowns scored and points per reception is the benchmark for recognizing a team’s best players–nothing could be further from the truth.  As the history of the Bengals clearly shows, playing at what is known as a “non-skill” position at a high standard for a sustainable period of time is just as impactful on the success of the team as those who catch passes and put points on the scoreboard.

Even though the Top 50 consists of the players who received the most votes regardless of their position, it’s interesting to note that it closely resembles an actual NFL 53-man roster.  If you exclude the long-snapper and two defensive backs from the Bengals 2016 53-man roster, not only are the Top 50 and the team roster very similar, but it also provides some insight into the mindset of the fans and the media who voted.


Before I name and give the reasons why seven players on the Bengals Top 50 should be replaced, it is important to note that in no way am I dismissing the contributions made by the players I am removing.  I am also not saying they are not worthy of the recognition they received from being named on the list.  I am simply making the case for seven other players who I feel made a bigger and longer impact on the history and the success of the Bengals in the team’s first 49 years of professional football.  Consequently, if I believe there are seven more deserving players, then to maintain the integrity of the Top 50 concept, seven players currently on the list have to go.


Stanford Jennings played for seven seasons in Cincinnati, serving primarily as a back-up running back and a full-time kickoff returner.  In the 107 games he played, only 16 of which he started at running back, Jennings rushed 1,225 yards on 308 carries and nine touchdowns while catching 107 passes for 1,027 yards and nine touchdowns receptions.  He also returned 136 kickoffs for 2,752 yards, average of 20.2 yards per return and one touchdown.  Jennings’ main claim to fame in a Bengals uniform, however, came in the 1988 post-season when he returned a kick-off 93 yards for a touchdown against San Francisco in Super Bowl XXIII, accounting for the only touchdown the Bengals scored in their heart-breaking 20-16 loss to Joe Montana and the 49ers.  Jennings electrifying return on the game’s biggest stage is, without question, one of the greatest moments in Bengals history.  Be that as it may, making team’s Top 50 should be, and is, about the entirety of a player’s career as a Bengal and the fact is Jennings’ time in Cincinnati doesn’t stack up to some others who did not make the list.


Forever known as “The Greatest Bengal That Never Was”, University of Cincinnati graduate Greg Cook debuted as the team’s starting quarterback in 1969, finishing the year with a promising 106 completions on 197 pass attempts for 1,854 yards and 15 touchdowns in 12 games.  Cook started 11 games in 1969, leading the Bengals to a 4-6-1 record in those 11 starts, a performance good enough for him to earn the 1969 AFL Rookie of the Year award.  More importantly, Cook showed the promise that the Bengals had found their quarterback of the future.  Sadly, Cook would attempt only three more passes in his NFL career.  Ubeknownst to Cook and the team’s medical staff, he tore his rotator cuff in 1969 and after the season underwent surgery to repair it.  During the surgery, doctors discovered that Cook also had a partially detached biceps muscle.  Three surgeries later, Cook attempted a comeback in 1973 but it failed, forcing him to retire at the end of the season.  Given his brief career, a total of 12 games played, Cook’s inclusion on this list frankly doesn’t make sense.  Had the Bengals asked their fans and the select media to vote on the Top 50 individual seasons in team history, then Cook’s 1969 campaign certainly would find a place as one of the best.  The Top 50, however, was meant to honor the best careers in Bengals history and one, like Cook’s that lasted only 12 games, shouldn’t merit serious consideration.


A member of the starting defensive backfield for the Bengals in their run to Super Bowl XXIII in 1988, Eric Thomas played six seasons in Cincinnati, starting in 68 of the 80 games he played at the right cornerback position.  A regular starter for four of his six years in Cincinnati, Thomas intercepted 15 passes, recovered two fumbles, recorded three sacks, made 239 tackles and returned one interception for a touchdown.  Thomas continued to make an impact in the post-season, intercepting two passes and recovering one fumble in five playoff games the Bengals played in 1988 and 1990.  Overall, Thomas has a solid career in Cincinnati yet he failed to earn any accolades from the national media or receive any all-conference or all-league selections, recognition that some others who did not make the Top 50 did receive.  It’s the lack of any All-AFC, All-Pro or Pro Bowl selections that is the reason why there are other former Bengals besides Thomas who are a better choice for the team’s Top 50.


A native of Fort Thomas, Kentucky who played his college football at the University of Kentucky, Doug Pelfrey was the Bengals placekicker for seven seasons from 1993-1999. Pelfrey was a solid and dependable kicker in his time in Cincinnati, converting on 77.3% of his field goals (153-198) and setting the record for consecutive extra points made (101) by a Bengals kicker.  His two best seasons were 1994 and 1995, finishing both years in the top 10 in the NFL in points scored (1994:  10th with 108 points; 1995:  9th with 121 points) and field goals made (1994:  4th with 28; 1995:  6th with 29) and sixth in field goal made percentage (84.848%) in 1994.  But like Eric Thomas, Pelfrey was never named to an All-Pro or Pro Bowl team in his tenure, putting him at a disadvantage compared to several other former Bengals who failed to make the Top 50.  Besides, with all due respect to the position Pelfrey played, a team of this sort only needs one placekicker.  And with Jim Breech firmly ensconced on the list thanks in large part to him being the franchise’s all-time leading scorer. having Pelfrey on the Top 50 as well is excessive.  Pelfrey’s Bengals legacy of “the local kid makes good” is a fan and popular narrative.  It isn’t, however, strong enough for him to be one of the 50 greatest Bengals in team history.


To most younger Cincinnati fans, Solomon Wilcots is an NFL analyst for CBS Sports who occasionally serves as the analyst for a game involving the Bengals.  What they don’t know is that Wilcots was a safety for Cincinnati from 1987-1990.  In his four seasons as a Bengal, Wilcots started in 26 of the 60 games he played, compiling two interceptions, three fumble recoveries and one sack.  In the end, there is no denying Wilcots contributed to the team’s Super Bowl run in 1988.  Nevertheless, his inclusion in the Top 50 retired Bengals of all-time is a bit of a mystery.  Apparently, it just goes to show how your career is inflated and magnified when you are a recognizable and national football personality.


You can make a very compelling argument that over the span of the 1976 and 1977 seasons, the most dominant defensive player in the NFL was the Cincinnati Bengals Coy Bacon.  In those two seasons, Bacon terrorized opponents from his right defensive end position.  His play is best exemplified by his 22 quarterback sacks in 1976, a mark that remains the Bengals team record for sacks in a season.  In 1976, Bacon was named first team All-AFC by the AP, UPI, The Sporting News and Pro Football Weekly and second team All-NFL by Pro Football Weekly and the Newspaper Enterprise Association.  Bacon followed up that season the following year by recording 5.5 sacks, two fumble recoveries and 36 total sacks, good enough for him to be selected first team All-AFC by The Sporting News and the UPI.  Bacon’s performance in 1976 and 1977 is considered in some circles the two greatest defensive seasons in Bengals history.  The problem with including Bacon in the team’s Top 50 retired players, however, is that 1976 and 1977 were the only two seasons he played in Cincinnati.  Naming a player to the franchise’s list of all-time greats when he only played two seasons just doesn’t seem appropriate, especially when there are several other candidates, who didn’t make the cut, who played longer and just as well as Bacon did in the 26 games he played as a Bengal.


One of the most endearing visual memories in Bengals history was from the 1988 season when a young, rookie running back out of UNLV entertained and captivated not only Cincinnati fans but the entire NFL as well with a unique dance following one of his many touchdowns.  Nearly 30 years later, Ickey Woods and his “Ickey Shuffle” are forever a part of Bengals and NFL lore and apparently strong enough for the fans and the media who voted to consider Woods in the top half of the greatest players in franchise history.  There’s no doubt that Woods had a storybook 1988 season, finishing the year with 1,066 yards on 203 attempts for an average of 5.3 yards per carry, the highest average in all of the NFL in 1988.  He did the “Ickey Shuffle” 15 times that season, good enough to finish second in the league for most touchdowns scored.  It was a year that ended with a trip to Super Bowl XXIII and earned Woods a spot on the UPI’s second-team All-AFC squad, second team All-Pro honors from the AP and the Newspaper Enterprise Association and a selection to the AFC Pro Bowl team.  As it turned out, 1988 was the only significant season Woods had with Cincinnati, effectively snuffing out the “Ickey Shuffle” just as quickly as it had debuted.  Woods spent three more years with the Bengals, playing only 21 of a possible 48 games and gaining a total of 459 yards rushing in his final three seasons combined.  Undoubtedly, Woods had one of the greatest seasons in team history in 1988 and was a dynamic personality during the Bengals magical run to the Super Bowl.  Ultimately, determining the players who make up the 50 greatest players in team history should be primarily based on their entire career.  Given his four seasons in Cincinnati, Woods fails to match several other players and their careers who failed to make the Bengals Top 50.

Recognizing the 50 greatest retired players in Bengals team history has been an excellent way to commemorate their 50th season of professional football.  While the Top 50 is a fine tribute to all those who have worn the orange and black throughout the years, it’s just one step in filling a void that the franchise has yet and needs to fill.  Sadly, once the 2017 season is finished and the hype surrounding the Bengals 50th season is in the rear view mirror, the Top 50 will simply fade away and become a distant memory because the Bengals, unlike the overwhelming majority of the other NFL teams, do not have a permanent place or Hall of Fame to honor the players and coaches who have significantly contributed to the team’s history and success.  It is time for that to change, and my book, Legends of the Jungle:  Introducing the Initial Candidates for a Possible Cincinnati Bengals Hall of Fame, lays out the eligibility requirements for a candidate and then provides an in-depth case for why those players who qualify deserve a spot in the team’s Ring of Honor or Hall of Fame.  You can purchase your copy at the online bookstore at or online at Barnes and Noble and  They make great Christmas gifts for the Bengals fan on your list, so order yours today.




  • As Major League Baseball reached its traditional halfway point with the playing of its annual All-Star game, it’s as good a time as any to select the mid-season award winners for 2017:
    • National League MVP:  Paul Goldschmidt, Arizona Diamondbacks.  For the past few seasons, Goldschmidt has been the best player nobody knows.  If he continues to play in the second half of the season like he did in the first half, everyone will know who he is.  His .313 batting average, 20 home runs and 67 RBI are all in the top-nine of the National League and is a main reason why the Diamondbacks are in position to make the playoffs for the first time since 2011.  Honorable mention:  Ryan Zimmerman, Washington Nationals and Charlie Blackmon, Colorado Rockies.
    • American League MVP:  Aaron Judge, New York Yankees.  Yankee fans proclaim “Here comes the Judge!” when their right fielder comes to the plate and you can make the same statement about the rookie’s impact on the rest of the league.  Judge leads the American League in home runs (30), is second in RBI (66) and third in batting average (.329).  At this rate, the verdict on the AL MVP race is clear–All rise for Aaron Judge.  Honorable mention:  Carlos Correa and Jose Altuve, Houston Astros.
    • National League Cy Young:  Max Scherzer, Washington Nationals.  In the closest race of all of the awards, Scherzer, at this point, gets the slight edge.  He leads the NL in ERA (2.10), strikeouts (173) and WHIP (0.78) and is third in wins (10), helping the Nationals open up a 9.5 game lead in the NL Eastern Division.  Honorable mention:  Clayton Kershaw, Los Angeles Dodgers and Zack Grienke, Arizona Diamondbacks.
    • American League Cy Young:  Chris Sale, Boston Red Sox.  When the Red Sox traded for Sale during the off-season, they were hoping to find the ace of their rotation.  So far, it’s been mission accomplished.  Sale, who opened the season by striking out 10 or more batters in eight consecutive starts, tying a major league record, leads the AL in strikeouts (178) and WHIP (0.90) and is second in wins (11) and ERA (2.75).  Without Sale, Boston certainly wouldn’t be leading the AL East at the All-Star break.
    • National League Manager of the Year:  Bud Black, Colorado Rockies.  No one, not even the most ardent Rockies fans, predicted that Colorado would contend for a wild card spot, much less a NL West Division title.  But Black, in his first year as the Rockies manager, has Colorado firmly esconsed in the NL playoffs with a 52-29 record and a 7.5 game lead for the second wild card spot.  Honorable mention:  Dave Roberts, Los Angeles Dodgers, Craig Counsell, Milwaukee Brewers.
    • American League Manager of the Year:  Kevin Cash, Tampa Bay Rays.  Last year at the All-Star break, the Rays were 34-54, 17.5 games behind in the AL East.  This year, Cash has the Rays 3.5 games behind in the AL East and holding the second wild card spot with a 47-43 record.  If Tampa can fix their inconsistent bullpen, Cash will find himself managing in the post-season.  Honorable mention:  Paul Molitor, Minnesota Twins and A.J. Hinch, Houston Astros.
  • Meanwhile, for the fourth consecutive year, Reds fans mark the All-Star break as a time to determine what player on the current roster will be dealt to a contending team prior to the trading deadline at the end of the month.  In the past, the organization has placed a priority on trading those players with the larger contracts, and this year appears no different.  Given the fact that Joey Votto and his $22 million contract and Homer Bailey and his $19 million contract are untradeable for a variety of reasons, the best option for the Reds is to shop for a deal involving catcher Devin Mesoraco.  Mesoraco’s $7.2 million contract combined with the fact that the Reds have two other serviceable catchers , Tucker Barnhardt and Rule 5 pick Stuart Turner, on their roster making the major league minimum makes a trade involving the 2014 NL All-Star catcher ideal and a perfect scenario for a team looking to cut costs.  Unfortunately, the market for Mesaraco is weak, at best, considering he has played a total of 79 games since 2015 and is currently on the 10-day disabled list  with a strained left shoulder and with no scheduled timetable for a return.  That leaves starting All-Star shortstop Zack Cozart ($5.325 million) and closer Raisel Iglesias ($3.5 million) as the leading candidates to leave Cincinnati before the end of July.  Iglesias seems the likeliest to be moved, specifically to the Washington Nationals or the Tampa Bay Rays who are in need of a reliable closer.  Cozart’s future, on the other hand, is more difficult to predict.  There are currently no contending teams who are in dire need of a shortstop.  Only the Arizona Diamondbacks, Colorado Rockies and Minnesota Twins can improve at the position, with the Diamondbacks the most likely suitor.  Regardless of the possible scenarios, one thing is for certain–Reds fans, for the fourth straight year, will witness one of their star players leave town in order to save money and obtain prospects.  Hopefully, one day soon, the shoe will be on the other foot.
  • For those of you keeping score at home, the Reds magic number to clinch the National League Central Division at the All-Star break is 83.
  • The Volume V Scoreboard Stumper answer was:  Dwight Gooden, Randy Johnson, Jake Peavy and Clayton Kershaw.  Here is the Volume VI Scoreboard Stumper:  Four active major league players have appeared in 1,000 or more games at first base.  Who are they?
  • July 1, 2017 came and went and by the end of the day, the New York Mets wrote a check to Bobby Bonilla for $1 million.  It’s certainly a check that won’t break the Mets’ bank and in today’s baseball, not a great deal of cash.  The thing is, Bonilla hasn’t played for the Mets since 1999 and for any MLB team since 2001.  The reason why Bonilla continues to receive a paycheck from New York, 18 years since he was last an employee, is, depending on your perspective, due to a savvy agent or because of a clueless organization.  After the 1999 season in which he finished the year with a .160 batting average, four home runs and 18 RBI, the Mets released Bonilla, despite owing him $5.9 million for the 2000 season.  Instead of paying him the remainder of his contract immediately and in one lump sum, the Mets wanted to defer the remaining salary to a later date.  Bonilla’s agent negotiated a deferred payment schedule buyout of the contract, with an eight percent annual interest rate that required the Mets to begin annual payments of $1.19 million in 2011.  The Mets have now made seven payments totaling $8.35 million, and thanks to the 8% APR, have 18 more payments to go until the contract is completed.  When it’s all said and done, on July 1, 2035, Bonilla will have received a total of $29.8 million for that final year of his Mets contract.  Better yet, if possible, for Bonilla, is that he is a resident of Florida, a state with no income tax.  Needless to say, it’s a good gig if you can get it.
  • With the baseball season more than halfway complete, you have to wonder if MLB Productions is considering the prospect of filming The Hangover:  Part Four–The Story of the 2017 Chicago Cubs.
  • Now that ESPN has apparently decided to hitch its hype train to Los Angeles Laker rookie guard, Lonzo Ball, how will LeBron James get any publicity or air time?
  • Like everyone else in the free world, I withdrew my name for consideration for the general manager’s position with the New York Knicks.
  • The only reasonable explanation for the unexpected results at Wimbledon 2017 which included Roger Federer winning his eighth Wimbledon title without losing a set, Venus Williams reaching the tournament’s final and Martina Hingis winning a mixed doubles championship, is that the tournament was relocated to Jurassic Park.
  • With NFL training camp just around the corner, make sure you pick up your copy of my book, Legends of the Jungle at, online at Barnes and Noble or at


  • Attention citizens of the 513 area code:  The S.S. 2017 Cincinnati Reds is taking on water and taking it on rapidly.  After last Sunday’s game, the Reds had lost 13 of their last 15 games, including three in a row to the lowly San Diego Padres, and had dropped to last place in the National League Central Division.  During this 15-game stretch, they have been outscored 104-59 and there doesn’t appear to be an end in sight.  Changes are necessary and it should start at the top, with the firing of manager Bryan Price.  Since becoming the manager in 2014, the Reds are a less than impressive 239-321, showing no signs of improvement and in many respects regressing as a franchise over the last 3-plus seasons.  Watching the Reds play, it’s apparent the players don’t like playing for Price, raising the question whether or not they respect him as well.  If that’s indeed the case, then it’s time to move on and find another voice, such as former Reds icons, Barry Larkin or Eric Davis.  That being said, the magic number for the Reds to clinch the National League Central Division is 93.
  • The answer to the Volume IV scoreboard stumper was Frank Robinson, Johnny Bench, Tony Perez and Brandon Phillips.  Here is this week’s Scoreboard Stumper:  Since 1980, four pitchers have won the National League Triple Crown (led the league in wins, ERA and strikeouts in the same season).  Who are they?
  • As soon as the Chicago Cubs recorded the final out to win the World Series last fall, the sale and marketing of Cubs championship souvenirs and memorabilia began in full force.  Fast forward six months and it seemed there wasn’t anything you couldn’t buy that marked the Cubs historic world championship.  That is until last week.  The Cubs organization announced a limited sale of 2,016 (get the inference?) pieces of the ivy from the Wrigley Field outfield wall for the bargain basement price of $200.00 per leaf plus $15.00 shipping and handling.  Individuals are limited to 10 pieces person and each piece of dead ivy includes a special hologram to verity its authenticity.  Let the ridiculous purchasing begin.
  • The vast majority of those writing the post-script on the 2017 NBA Championship season of the Golden State Warriors will make the case that the reason why the Warriors were able to revenge their loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers in last year’s finals and regain their status as the league’s best team, was their addition of Kevin Durant during the off-season.  Given Durant’s regular season performance (25.1 PPG, 8.3 RPG and 4.8 APG) and the fact he dominated the NBA Finals on his way to winning the series MVP by averaging 35.2 PPG, 8.4 RPG, 5.4 APG and 1.6 blocks per game in the five games against the Cavaliers, it is a fairly sound argument.  Moreover, Golden State’s acquisition of Durant , while undoubtedly crucial to the Warriors regaining their title, has many NBA experts declaring that the true lasting legacy of the 2016-2017 Golden State Warriors  is that marks the beginning of the Superteam Era, where franchise players flee their current teams for a chance to win a championship with an already star-studded roster.  But if you look closer at the Warriors roster, the true impact Golden State will have on the NBA is a much-needed change to who is eligible for the league’s annual draft.  Three of the  Warriors’  four best players, Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green, all of whom are perennial all-stars and winners of an NBA title before Durant arrived, played a minimum of three seasons of college basketball.  Curry and Thompson played three seasons each at Davidson and Washington State respectively while Green played four years at Michigan State.  It’s proof that the more time a potential NBA prospect spends at the collegiate level, the better the game they bring to the NBA and the sooner the impact they have on their team’s success..  Golden State is indeed an excellent team and the cream of the NBA crop.  It seems if the league wants to establish parity and to improve their overall product then they need to convince the players union to modify the draft eligibility rules to mandate all prospects have a minimum of two years college experience.
  • Two storylines emerged from this year’s U.S. Open Golf Championship held at Erin Hills.  First, the tournament winner, Brooks Koepka, won his first major championship, continuing a streak of seven consecutive majors where the champion won his first career major.  Koepka’s final socre of 16-under par, tied Rory McElroy’s 2011 U.S. Open record for lowest score in relation to par and was due in large part to hitting more greens in regulation (86 percent) than anyone in the field.  Second, the USGA will never come back to Erin Hills for another U.S. Open.  The sanctioning body of the U.S. Open, the USGA expects the golf courses that host their most important championship to exact a pound of flesh or two from the field and to produce a champion who survives rather than wins the tournament.  A final score of 16-under par is fine for the folks who run the Houston Open.  A final score of 16-under par to the organizers of the U.S. Open means the golf course failed to do its job.  And like NASA, failure is not an option for the USGA.
  • The tweet of the week comes from John O’Connell, a devout New York Yankees fan, @jacko2323.  He sent this tweet during the jersey retirement ceremony of former Boston Red Sox great, David Ortiz.  Pay close attention to the upper case letters as they appeared in his tweet:  “Surely The fans of Everyteam Rejoice Over the Incredible David oritiz’s Special night.”
  • There’s no denying that Sidney Crosby is one of, if not the best, hockey player in the world.  His 382 goals and 1,027 points in the regular season, 3 Stanley Cup Championships, 2 NHL MVP awards, 2 Conn Smythe Awards, 2 Olympic Gold Medals, 1 World Cup title and 1 World Championship is a testament to his status as the league’s top performer.  What is surprising is that after watching this year’s Stanley Cup playoffs, it appears in the eyes of the NHL’s on-ice officials, Crosby’s talent and resume grants him an additional competitive advantage over his opponents and carte-blanche when it comes to defending his own space.  Seemingly every time Crosby was unable to make a play because of what appeared to be a solid play by a defender or simply because Crosby’s skills failed him, the officials called a penalty on the defender, placing the Pittsburgh Penguins and Crosby on the power play.  Meanwhile, when Crosby felt he was being defended too aggressively, he took matters into his own hands by slashing, holding and committing the same penalties his opponents were accused of when defending him but without any fear of repercussion from the officials on the ice.  This “Protection of Sidney Crosby” was in full effect in Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Finals against the Nashville Predators.  Within the first minute of the game, the Predators were penalized for holding Crosby, a penalty that was, to say the least, dubious and to say the most, a joke.  The Penguins scored on the ensuing power play and the eventual 6-0 Penguin rout was on.  Later in the same game, upset over what he felt was a missed slashing call on one of his teammates, Crosby threw a water bottle from the bench onto the ice while the lay was ongoing, a clear-cut delay of game penalty.  And yet, the four officials on the ice failed to see what everyone else had seen and let play continue.  At the next break in play, Crosby called one of the officials over to the Penguins bench and explained he didn’t mean to throw the water bottle on the ice, a mea culpa that seemed insincere and more importantly unnecessary since it appears Crosby’s actions are exempt from any kind of accountability.  Crosby’s free pass, however, was in full view near the end of the first period of Game 5 when he battled behind the Penguins net with his arch-nemesis during the series, Predator defenseman, P,K, Subban.  In the midst of their one-on-one scrum, Crosby grabbed Subban’s head and repeatedly slammed it into the ice.  Crosby was assessed a two-minute minor penalty for his MMA actions (for holding, of all things) but in a move that reeked of, “if Sidney was that mad, then there must be a reason”, Subban was also penalized two minutes for holding (The only reasonable explanation for a holding penalty was that Subban was “holding” on for dear life).  To further validate the NHL’s unwritten policy of the “Crosby Rules”, Mike Milbury, an analyst for NBC, the league’s national broadcast partner” proclaimed during intermission that Crosby’s attack “was cagey.  And Subban had it coming.”  What makes Crosby’s action against Subban even more galling and to a greater extent hypocritical is that he has missed a large portion of his career because of concussions due to inappropriate and illegal blows to the head.  Crosby and the NHL have campaigned and verbally railed against those players who commit penalties involving the head over the past few seasons.  But when Crosby does the same things the NHL wants to limit and remove, he is being “cagey” and his opponent “had it coming.”  Here is the bottom line–it’s time to expose the NHL’s long-kept secret that Sidney Crosby, the player they showcase as their best active player (how else to explain his winning the Conn Smythe Award as this year’s MVP of the playoffs even though he had one teammate score more goals and another who scored more points) is one of the dirtiest and the most coddled players in the entire league.
  • Hope everyone had a chance to listen to my radio interviews this week promoting my book, Legends of the Jungle.  You can purchase your copy at the online bookstore at, online at Barnes and Noble and at


  • In his first return to Cincinnati since being traded by the Reds to the Atlanta Braves during the off-season, Brandon Phillips received a well-deserved, extended standing ovation from the crowd at Great American Ball Park.  And when Phillips stated prior to the game that despite wearing a Braves uniform he was “still Mr. Cincinnati regardless of what anybody say”, no one disagreed.  Unfortunately, when Phillips, who played for 11 seasons in a Reds uniform, complained, “I still can’t believe that No. 4 is…someone is wearing my number.  I think that’s a slap in the face,” he went from a homecoming hero to a delusional, bitter and petty ex-player.  To think that the Reds should shelve his No. 4 as soon as he left the organization, reeks of an egotism that most fans believed Philips never exhibited.  Granted, Phillips ended his career with Cincinnati as the franchise’s all-time leader in hits (1,774), doubles (311), home runs (191) and runs batted in (851) for a second baseman in addition to being a three-time All-Star, a four-time Gold Glove recipient and a Silver Slugger award winner in 2011.  But for Phillips to believe that the Reds should, in essence, retire his number based on those accomplishments is simply misguided.  Maybe Phillips needs a history lesson to understand why Scooter Gennett is wearing his No. 4 this season.  Joe Morgan, the second baseman with the franchise records Phillips eclipsed wore the No. 8 in his tenure with the Reds.  After Morgan left Cincinnati with all those records, 8 All-Star selections, five Gold Gloves, two National League Most Valuable Player awards and two World Championships, the Reds issued Morgan’s No. 8 to the likes of Rafael Landestoy, Bo Diaz, Terry McGriff, Alex Trevino, Juan Samuel and Damon Berryhill as well has coaches Joey Amalfitano, Joe Sparks, John McClaren and manager Bob Boone.  In fact, the Reds didn’t retire Morgan’s number until 1988, nine years after he last played for Cincinnati.  And he’s in the Baseball Hall of Fame.  So, relax Brandon.  Scooter Gennett wearing No. 4 doesn’t dismiss your contributions to the team or the city during your 11 seasons in Cincinnati.  Just remember, while you may think “you run this piece”, it will take some time before the franchise considers putting your No. 4 on ice.
  • For those of you keeping score at home, the Reds magic number to clinch the National League Central Division, as of June 6, is 110.
  • The Volume III Scoreboard Stumper answer was:  Rod Carew, Julio Franco, Dee Gordon, Jose Altuve and D.J. LeMahieu.  This week’s Scoreboard Stumper asks, Who are the four players to have hit 10 or more home runs in 10 or more seasons while playing for the Cincinnati Reds?
  • On their June 30, 2014 cover, Sports Illustrated boldly proclaimed that the Houston Astros would win the World Series in 2017.  At the time, it seemed like a prediction done solely to sell magazines and to capitalize on the hot trend at the time in baseball, teams using the “Moneyball” approach to building their franchise into a consistent winner.  Now that the 2017 season is one-third complete, the Astros seem hell-bent on permanently dismissing the myth of the SI cover jinx.  Through the first 58 games of the season, Houston is a blistering 42-16, leading the second place LA Angels and the Seattle Mariners by a seemingly insurmountable 14 games in the American League West Division and well on their way to fulfilling SI”s prophecy from three years earlier.  Led by second baseman Jose Altuve (.326/.520/.913), outfielder George Springer (.278/.537/.884), shortstop Carlos Correa (.310/.532/.920) and starting pitcher Dallas Keuchel (9-0, 1.67 ERA), players SI profiled in their 2014 cover story as the foundation for Houston’s championship run, the Astros are primed to make the editors of Sports Illustrated consider getting into the business of forecasting the future of World Series champions.
  • Just when you thought the Baseball Hall of Fame couldn’t lose any more integrity, word comes that the cartoon character, Homer Simpson, was inducted into the Hall of Fame to mark the 25th anniversary of The Simpsons’ “Homer at the Bat” episode.  And yet this same organization refuses to consider the game’s all-time hit leader, Pete Rose, for induction.  It’s time to either drain the swamp in Cooperstown or shut the place down.
  • Tweet of the Week:  Immediately following Scooter Gennett’s four home run game against the St. Louis Cardinals on Tuesday night, Mo Egger @MoEgger1530 tweeted, “20 years from now, 400,000 people will have attended the Scooter Gennett game.”
  • If you’re NBA commissioner Adam Silver, you can’t be pleased with the current state of your sport.  First, your most popular television analyst, Charles Barkley, appears on the national broadcast of Game 4 of the NHL’s Stanley Cup Final and tells the country, “Our NBA playoffs have not been good.”  Second, your marquee event, the NBA Finals between the Golden State Warriors and the Cleveland Cavaliers, the matchup everyone wanted to see, has been so uneventful that there was more tension at the National Spelling Bee during Game 1 and more excitement on Food Network’s, The Next Food Network Star:  Comeback Kitchen during Game 2.  Finally, you have a president of one of your franchises complaining about the disparity in the league, recently telling a reporter that the Warriors “are the varsity and the rest of us look like the jayvee.”  Given these circumstances, if you’re Adam Silver, you’re probably wondering if David Stern wants his job back.
  • If watching Golden State in this year’s playoffs isn’t impressive enough, then consider that over the last two years, the Warriors are 52-4 when head coach Steve Kerr has not been on the bench due to complications from his back surgery in 2015.
  • The perfect Father’s Day gift is just one click away at the Online Bookstore at when you order my softcover version of The Legends of the Jungle:  Introducing the Initial Candidates for a Possible Cincinnati Bengals Hall of Fame.  Buy yours today!


  • Due to technological issues, Volume III of The Week in Sports was delayed.  The original byline of this post was Memorial Day, May 29, 2017
  • By all accounts, Bronson Arroyo is a nice fellow and a great teammate.  So, it’s nothing personal but it is time for the Reds to remove Arroyo from the starting rotation and replace him with a starter from within the organization.  Despite a surprising 24-25 record, the Reds are not going to contend for a post-season spot in 2017.  Instead, they are using this season to rebuild for the future, identifying those players in their system who can contribute moving forward by giving them significant playing time at the major league level.  It’s a formula the Chicago Cubs used a few years back that they parlayed into a World Championship in 2016.  If the Reds are truly setting themselves up for a post-season run in two or three years, it makes more sense for them to use a spot in their rotation in 2017 on someone like Asher Wojciechowski or Rob Wooten instead of Arroyo, who through 10 starts has a 3-4 record, a 6.62 ERA and had yielded 18 home runs in 51.2 innings pitched.  There’s no doubt Arroyo is a good guy.  He just isn’t a good fit for the Reds current rotation or their rebuilding project.
  • It’s not a stretch to believe that if the Reds could deal with the Milwaukee Brewers,  and specifically their right fielder Eric Thames, then they would currently find themselves atop the NL Central Division this Memorial Day.  Not only are the Reds 1-6 against the Brewers so far this season but Thames is batting .429 in 28 at-bats against Cincinnati pitching, with 8 home runs, 14 RBI and an OPS of 1.853.  Given the fact the Reds are only 2 games behind the first place Brewers, finding a way to get Thames out is the first step in closing the gap between first and fourth place.
  • For those of you keeping score at home, as of Monday May 29, the Reds magic number to clinch the NL Central Division is 116.
  • Much has been written and said about baseball’s increasingly slow pace of play.  In recent years, many ideas such as pitch clocks, limiting the number of mound visits and pitching changes have been proposed to speed up the game while others, such as timed visits to the pitching mound, a no pitch intentional walk and a 30-second limit for a manager to decide to challenge a play, were implemented for the 2017 MLB season.  But despite all of the changes, so far this year, a typical baseball game plods along at an incruciating average rate of 3 hours and 5 minutes for a nine inning game.  If MLB wants to return to the glory days of 1976, when the average nine inning game took only 2 hours 24 minutes to complete, or 1990, when an average nine inning game was wrapped up in an economical 2 hours 47 minutes, then they should adopt the proposed change to raise the strike zone, specifically the lower part of the strike zone, to the top of the hitter’s knees, effectively raising it an estimated two inches.  Studies show this change to the strike zone will produce more balls in play, more runs, more chances for the defense to make outs and more action.  The end result would be a significant decrease in walks and strikeouts, an easy fix to speed up the game and more importantly the entertainment value of the game.
  • My nephew recently posted on Facebook the greates players, by position, in MLB in his lifetime.  With a nod to Mackenzie Powell and his thought provoking  post, here is my list of the greatest baseball players, by position, in my lifetime:  C–Johnny Bench, 1B–Pete Rose, 2B–Joe Morgan, SS–Cal Ripken Jr., 3B–Mike Schmidt, LF–Barry Bonds, CF–Ken Griffey Jr., RF–Roberto Clemente, RHSP–Tom Seaver, LHSP–Randy Johnson, DH–Edgar Martinez.
  • The answer to the Volume II Scoreboard Stumper was Gary Nolan, Tom Browning, Anthony DeSclafani and Johhny Cueto.  Here is this week’s Scoreboard Stumper:  Since 1970, five different second basemen have led their league in batting average.  Who are they?
  • If in fact Game 4 of the Western Conference NBA Finals was the last game for San Antonio Spurs guard Manu Ginobili, then the folks at the Basketball Hall of Fame need to start working on his plaque and sizing him for his ring.  In his 15-year NBA career, all with the Spurs, Ginobili averaged 13.6 PPG and 3.9 APG during the regular season as a two-time NBA All-Star and the league’s Sixth Man of the Year in 2008.  In the post-season, Ginobili helped guide the Spurs to four NBA titles by averaging 14.1 PPG, 3.8 APG and shooting over 35% from three-point range.  Aside from his stellar NBA career, Ginobili was a member of the Argentinian national team that won the gold medal at the 2004 Summer Olympics.  And to think 11 players selected ahead of Ginobili in the 1999 NBA Draft never played one minute in the league.  Congratulations are in order for Ginobili on a Hall of Fame career.
  • Sweden won the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) World Championships last week but their victory was overshadowed by a couple of other storylines to come out of the tournament.  First, Team USA did their best Washington Capitals impersonation, finishing the championship in fifth place and failing to qualify for the medal round.  Their poor showing continues a disturbing trend for Team USA in recent international play, a squad of talent-laden NHL players who fail to have any significant success against the rest of the world.  The last time Team USA medaled in an international competition was in 2015 when they earned a bronze at the IIHF World Championships.  Since then, they have finished sixth in the 2016 IIHF Championship, lost all their games in group play in the 2016 World Cup and finished fourth in their last Olympic appearance in 2014.  With the talent Team USA brings to these competitions, these results are totally unacceptable.  Needless to say, there needs to be some serious soul-searching amongst the leaders and decisions makers within the USA organization before the 2018 Winter Olympics.  Maybe the NHL’s decision to skip the Olympics is the reset Team USA needs to solve their international tournament malaise.  Second, Sweden defeated Canada in the gold medal game, 2-1, in a shoot-out after both teams finished three periods and a 20-minute overtime tied at one goal a piece.  Determining the winner of an ice hockey world championship through a shoot-out is a disgrace and makes the entire tournament lose all of its credibility.  It’s the equivalent of ending the Super Bowl after a scoreless overtime period with a field goal kicking contest to determine who wins the Vince Lombardi Trophy.  The NFL would never consider such an alternative to crown a champion and the IIHF needs to do the same.
  • The tweet of the week comes from Clay Travis @ Clay Travis:  “Pulled up next to business yesterday named, ‘The Toy Box’.  6-year old asks, ‘What kind of toys do they have there?’  It was a strip club.”
  • Chris Chase of recently ranked every NFL stadium from best to worst for watching a football game and while it was no surprise he placed Green Bay’s Lambeau Field on the top of the list and Washington’s Fed Ex Field at the bottom, Chase did have some interesting opinions regarding some other NFL venues.  Despite its seemingly constant publicity and presence, Chase ranked Dallas’ AT&T Field 30th out of 32, claiming to call Jerry World a football stadium is like calling “Disney World an amusement park”.  Chase placed future Super Bowl venue, Tampa’s Raymond James Stadium, 12th, in large part of its cannon-firing fully functional pirate ship in one of the end zones.  As for Cincinnati’s Paul Brown Staudim, Chase ranked it 20th, thankfully ahead of Cleveland’s FirstEnergy Stadium.  Had Chase read my new book, Legends of the Jungle, prior to releasing his list, he might have placed Paul Brown a little higher considering the great players who called the stadium home.  You can decide for yourself by purchasing your own copy of Legends of the Jungle at the Online Bookstore at and by entering my name in the author field  of your Advanced Search.


Here’s a look at the week that was in the sports world, including some interesting information about that team who is shockingly leading the National League Central Division…

  • If you’re searching for a reason why the Reds have started the 2017 season with a surprising 17-14 record and a 1/2 game lead in the National League Central Division, you need to look no further than the bullpen and its marked improvement from 2016.  Last season, the top five relievers for Cincinnati ended the year with a 17-20 record, 26 saves, an ERA of 3.69, a WHIP of 1.33 and average of 1.18 home runs per nine innings.  So far in 2017, the primary relief corps of Raisel Iglesias, Michael Lorenzen, Drew Storen, Wandy Peralta and Blake Wood have a won-loss record of 5-2, seven saves, an ERA of 2.44, a WHIP of 0.98 and an average of .49 home runs per nine innings.  It also helps that the 2017 offense has a +22 run differential compared to a -138 run differential in 2016.
  • For those of you keeping score at home, the magic number for the Reds to clinch the National League Central Division is 132.
  • After nearly two weeks of over-aggressive sliding, brush backs and bean balls between the Boston Red Sox and the Baltimore Orioles, commissioner Rob Manfred and MLB chief baseball officer Joe Torre decided they had seen enough.  In a conference call with the general managers and field managers of both teams prior to their game last Wednesday, Manfred and Torre essentially said stop the nonsense or else.  Kudos to both Manfred and Torre for attempting to get out in front of this mess but they needed to include on the call the primary instigator in the feud, Oriole third baseman Manny Machado.  It was Machado who slid hard into Boston second baseman Dustin Pedroia, prompting the Red Sox to throw at him on two separate occasions, the last one causing Machado to unleash a profanity laced tirade against Boston pitcher Chris Sale.  He then decided to make matters worse by taking more time to circle the bases after a home run at Fenway Park than an amateur needs to complete a 200-meter dash.  If Machado feels the need to Cadillac around the bases after hitting a home run, then he should expect to have his tower buzzed more often.  Manfred and Torre had the right idea on Wednesday.  They just missed the chance to pass on the advice Vince Lombardi once gave to one of his players after an excessive touchdown celebration:  Act like you’ve been there before.
  • Here is this week’s Scoreboard Stumper:  From 1967-2016, four rookie pitchers have struck out 150 or more batters in a season while playing for the Reds.  Who are they?  Check back next week for the answer.
  • I keep waiting for the press release from the editors of Webster’s Dictionary announcing that in their next revised version they will update their definition of the word choke to include, “see the Los Angeles Clippers.”
  • Let’s just save everyone a lot of time and exaggeration by starting the NBA Finals tomorrow between Golden State and Cleveland and let them play a best of 21-game series to make up for the conference finals games that won’t need to be played.  It’s the best opportunity the NBA has to keep everyone interested for the remainder of the playoffs.
  • Last week, the University of Kentucky announced they were renaming their football stadium from the only name it’s ever had, Commonwealth Stadium, to Kroger Field.  No word yet on whether select sections of the stadium will received double fuel points every time the Wildcats score a touchdown.
  • The folks who operate Churchill Downs are fond of telling anyone within earshot that the Kentucky Derby is the most exciting two minutes in sports.  And while the race lives up to that billing, the problem facing Churchill Downs and the horse racing industry in general is the Derby itself, once one of the most important dates on the sports calendar, begins and ends with those exciting two minutes.  In the past, the Derby winner always made the cover of Sports Illustrated, accompanied by a featured story about the day and the race. Today, the Derby is lucky if SI does more than a just publish a couple of photos and a sidebar recap of the race.  The sport had hoped the emotional ride to the Triple Crown offered up by American Pharoah in 2015 would return the Derby to its glory days.  Unfortunately, it hasn’t and it appears it won’t happen anytime soon.  If Churchill Downs wants to make the Derby a front-page, significant event once again, it needs to showcase it during the bright lights of prime time and hold the race at night.  The track installed permanent lighting in 2009 and has hosted several Downs After Dark events since the Spring meet of 2010.   Why not inject some much needed energy into a once can’t miss event of the season by racing the Run for the Roses under the lights with the iconic Twin Spires providing the ultimate backdrop?  Most racing insiders believe, however, the chances of holding the sport’s most prestigious race at night is a fantasy wish at best.  But considering that  this year’s Derby winner was named Always Dreaming, maybe the prospect of a prime-time Kentucky Derby isn’t as improbable as everyone seems to think.
  • There were many Bengals fans who were angered and disappointed the team chose running back Joe Mixon in this year’s draft because of the domestic assault incident involving him and a female in his freshman year at Oklahoma in 2014.  The sad truth, however, is that if Mixon makes a meaningful impact in 2017, those feelings of anger and disappointment will quickly fade away.  For when it comes to the success of your favorite team, being hypocritical is a small price to pay.
  • With the 2017 NFL Draft in the books and Cincinnati fans debating the merits of their picks, now is the perfect time to purchase my book, Legends of the Jungel, for the chance to look back at many of the Bengals previous draft choices that eventually became some of the franchise’s all-time greats.  To get your copy, go to the Online Bookstore at and use the Advanced Search to enter my name, Mark Powell, in the Author Field.  You can also order it online at Barnes and Noble and at


Boomer Esiason still holds the Cincinnati Bengals record for most passing yards in a game and is tied for the most 300-yard games.

Jim Breech is the team’s all-time leading scorer in points and remains a beloved figure more than twenty years after his retirement.

Cris Collinsworth led the team in receptions and receiving yards several times in the 1980s–and topped the team in receiving touchdowns three times.

But these great players and many others aren’t in the Bengals’ Hall of Fame, and it’s for a simple reason:  It does not exist.  That needs to change, according to me, Mark Powell.

By creating its own Hall of Fame or Ring of Honor, the team would be paying tribute to its great players and personalities.  But it would need to determine who is eligible and who should be honored first.

Get a detailed look at one of the NFL’s most interesting franchises, discover its rich history, and decide for yourself who deserves to be among the Legends of the Jungle.

Legends of the Jungle is my first book and is now available at  Simply go to the website and select the Bookstore link.  From there, choose the Advance Search link and enter “Mark Powell” in the author field to get your copy.  You can also order it online at Barnes and Noble or at

Any copy you purchase, I will be happy to sign.  Get your copy and today and share this post with all of your friends!