Friday, November 19, 1999

Got leaves to rake? Save me from Bengal boredom

The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Another fabulous NFL Sunday is coming up and everywhere across the Tristate, professional football fans are pulling on their garden gloves and oiling their leaf-blowers. There's nothing like a football Sunday at Home Depot.

        The Bengals make you want to do lots of things. I won't name them now. It's breakfast time. But here's one thing they've accomplished: They make you want to rake.

        This is what I hear. People who go to Bengals games wonder why they didn't stay home and rake. Some of them have taken their own advice. As a result, we may not have the best football team in the NFL. But we have the cleanest lawns.

        You know a football team is going bad when coaches and management start saying the players are, bless 'em, trying hard. You know a team is going bad when the radio shows start speculating on next year's draft and it's not even Thanksgiving. You know it's bad when Mike Brown suggests he might, possibly, maybe, if he feels like it, make a few tiny, microscopic, barely perceptible to the naked eye, uh, changes in how he runs the team.

        (Any changes would be “gradual,” however. Keepers of geologic time, take note.)

        Of course, the Bengals need to be blown apart with a 396-horsepower shop-vac. They need Roto-Rooter. They need Arnold Schwarzenegger with the shoulder-mounted rocket launcher, knocking at the door to the Spinney Field bunker and asking, “How may I help you?”

        Failing that, let's rake. As noted local philosopher Sam Wyche once said, “There's leaves to be raked and gutters to be cleaned out.”

Ready to rake
        Here's the deal:

        If you promise to deliver me from the thrills and euphoria certain to erupt at Lethargy Field on Sunday at 4:05, when the Bengals play host to the Baltimore Ravens in a game for the ages, I will do your yardwork. Really.

        I will pull myself away from the magic that is a Bengals football Sunday to rake your leaves. I will empty your gutters. I'll pull every last oak leaf from your hedges. You spare me from another Bengals Sunday, I'll make your yard look like an English garden. I swear.

        The last audience participation column I did, I asked if I could come to your house and watch basketball. It was Duke and Kentucky, on ESPN, and I didn't have cable. Some 75 of you responded with invitations. I'm here now to return the favor. I am Lawn Man.

        There is a phone number at the end of this column. Call it. Give me some reasons I should foresake exciting NFL action to make your yard look like the 12th green at the Masters.

        I'll give preference to senior citizens, single, expectant mothers and people with very small yards. (Hey, you're getting me for free, OK?)

        I'd write about the Bengals Sunday but, honestly, it's hard to type when you're constantly throwing up your hands. There is no Webster's/Roget's/Bartlett's available that includes a synonym for “bad” that I have not used in a Bengals column in the last, Lost Decade.

        There are no more words. Only leaves.

        So, call. Allow me to clean your yard. You supply the rake, I'll supply the gratitude.

Just playing through
        Even Bengals coach Bruce Coslet has shifted into Zen-acceptance mode. It may not be that Coslet is resigned to packing up after this season. It just looks that way.

        The coach that used to appear at postgame news conferences combative and edgy now seems as stuck with the inevitable as the rest of us. I don't know if Coslet feels his season was torpedoed the minute the Bengals drafted Akili Smith instead of taking the deal New Orleans offered. I couldn't tell you if he felt set up to fail when Smith became the starting quarterback just five games into the season, or when the team cut Corey Sawyer, one of its few experienced cornerbacks.

        I do know one thing: If I were him, I'd ask me to come to your house Sunday and help clear out your tulip beds.

        All lines are open. Call now.

        Paul Daugherty welcomes your comments at (513) 768-8454. Fair Game, a collection of his columns, is available at local bookstores.


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