After reading this story, you better count your lucky stars you’re a Pittsburgh Steelers fan. The Steelers are known as a model franchise, one who does right for their players, and create a winning culture in the locker room and on the field.
The Cincinnati Bengals…their reputation is the exact opposite. Owner Mike Brown is known as one of the cheapest in the league. For the longest time, their scouting staff was essentially just members of the Brown family. To their credit, the Bengals have modernized their team but to hear T.J. Houshmanzadeh tell it, things were B-A-D years ago.
Houshmanzadeh, drafted in 2001 by the team, joined Colin Cowherd earlier this week to talk about his early years with the team. He explained how bad things were.
“We didn’t have bottled water or Gatorade,” he told Cowherd. “It was crazy because when we first got it, guys would be taking backpacks full of Gatorade home.”
He told Cowherd water was only available at the water fountain.
Worse – yes, somehow it gets worse – was the story he shared the year before, implying that by 2001, ownership finally wised up. The Bengals gave players USED jockstraps and even then, did it in the least dignified way possible.
“The year before I got there, Willie Anderson was telling me, they didn’t have have jockstraps. They would get a bunch of used jockstraps, throw them in the middle of the locker room, and say ‘here you go.'”
Housmanzadeh said the high draft picks on the team would go out and buy new jockstraps for the entire team.
Players also stayed at home the night before home games, unlike every other team who spent the night in a hotel. That meant players who didn’t expect to be active for the game would stay out at the club until morning, go to the stadium, and sit in their sweats for a couple hours.
He credited Marvin Lewis for turning the culture around in that regard, saying things improved after Lewis was hired in 2003. While Lewis gets plenty of deserved flack for the team’s continued mediocrity, he clearly improved the culture of the team and was able to persuade his bosses to provide players with basic necessities.
Thank God we have the Rooney family.