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T.J. will read this

Posted by hobsonschoice1 on September 19, 2010 – 8:25 am

You know he will.

He said the other day he reads everything about himself on the Internet and there have been 587 catches worth of reading about T.J. Houshmandzadeh this past week.

Has a more popular Bengal ever made a return trip to play against his former club?  Boomer Esiason never played at Riverfront Stadium as a Jet or Cardinal, so no.

As soon as Houshmandzadeh arrived Saturday afternoon with the Ravens, wide receiver Chad Ochocinco met him at the hotel. Then The Ocho, Batman to his Robin long before Terrell Owens was a twinkle in Carson Palmer’s eye, brought Houshmandzadeh to his house for a few hours.

There is no question his ex-teammates are looking forward to playing against him as much he’s looking forward to playing them. He was a hot topic in the locker room this week.

Cornerbacks Johnathan Joseph and Leon Hall talked about the value of going against him in practice every day.

Another player rolled through the texts he has sent back and forth with him since he made his Ravens debut last Monday night. 

Several had varying imitations of him exploding in frustration on the field, whether it be against the refs, the coaches, or just the circumstances. You could have taken an over-under on when he’ll first rip off his chinstrap Sunday, then arms upraised, venting at the powers-that-be.

That frustration went a long way in sullying his good guy reputation last year in Seattle after eight seasons of popularity in Cincinnati. It was a tough year on the Pacific and, as usual, Houshmandzadeh wore his heart on his sleeve and told people about it and he became known as a locker-room lawyer.

Which is a funny thing.

It is all a matter of perception. Same guy, different view.

In Cincinnati, where he worked his way up from a seventh-round pick, to almost getting cut by new head coach Marvin Lewis, to becoming Palmer’s most reliable target, to a Pro Bowl running mate for The Ocho, Houshmandzadeh was seen as a smart, candid, hard-working team guy who didn’t mind that his former college teammate got the spotlight.

But in Seattle, where he had No. 1 numbers and No. 1 money, the spotlight did a strange thing. The candor became portrayed as cancer. Smart became conniving. Speaking out to the coaches to lobby his ideas became an act of defiance instead of leadership.

As Houshmandzadeh said this week, he was amazed that his reputation took such a shot in one year.

Same guy?

Pretty much.

Now, there’s no question his volatile personality got him in trouble with the Bengals coaches. His clashes with Lewis about cutting back practice were legendary and offensive coordinator Bob Bratkowski had to smile last week when he was asked about how difficult he was.

“We got him out of some habits,” he said.

There may be too much water under the bridge, now, but the bottom line is they knew Houshmandzadeh. He might have been difficult at times, but, in the end, they offered him the kind of money he was seeking. They knew he was a gamer and a fierce competitor that made them a better team.

In the end, of course, everyone learned a lesson and Houshmandzadeh was so candid about that last week, wasn’t he? Houshmandzadeh found out that the Bengals and their fans accepted him for what he is, volatility and all, while the Seahawks and Seattle saw it all so differently.

And, no doubt, if the Bengals knew in August of ’08 that Laveranues Coles and Antonio Bryant would not pan out, they may very well have offered the money then instead of in March.

What’s it all mean?

It means that on Sunday, Houshmandzadeh should get a rousing welcome at Paul Brown Stadium. Bengaldom figures to stand as one and honor long and loud one of the key figures that helped legitimize the franchise. Think of all those third-down catches, the red-zone touchdowns, the long balls against Pittsburgh and Baltimore, the fierce pride that might have stepped on some toes but also won some big games.

Welcome back, Housh. Thanks for the memories.

Here’s to a great reception.

But not 10 receptions.


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Posted in Hobson's Choice | 10 Comments »


10 Responses to “T.J. will read this”

  1. By 454rat on Sep 19, 2010 | Reply

    He is the ENEMY now! Baltimore is the original CLEVELAND! I was a fan of his when he was HERE! He is gone now. BIG difference. I will not cheer him today. In my opinion there is no Raven worthy of cheer in this stadium. None.

  2. By 2ndboot on Sep 19, 2010 | Reply

    ..and if by some freak of fate Chad goes to Pittsburgh we should all welcome him with open arms? I think not! Once they play against us they become enemy pure and simple. No cheers.. TJ’s now an official BUM! A noisy old crow.

  3. By phlockar on Sep 19, 2010 | Reply

    Housh was my favorite player when he was here(outside of number 9). The way he played made him a perfect fit in this blue and black smashing division. It sucks he went to a rival but in the end he gave all he had for this team and city and everyone has to remember, this is a business to them.

  4. By bengalstripes9 on Sep 19, 2010 | Reply

    I’m still a fan of TJ, just not when he’s playing us. Glad we blanked him.

  5. By mwindle1973 on Sep 19, 2010 | Reply

    It was our choice to let him go. And one that was pretty stupid to the tune of 17M plus not to mention paying Graham 2.5M last year to miss big kicks every other game. Remember we couldn’t afford TJ because then we lacked about 750K of Grahams franchise tag money.

  6. By jbk32167 on Sep 20, 2010 | Reply

    Once a Bengal always a Bengal. Thanks for the great memories TJ

    Who-Dey!

  7. By hobsonschoice1 on Sep 20, 2010 | Reply

    WIND: There was a lot more to the T.J. thing than $750,000. Remember, they ended up offering him pretty close to what he signed for in Seattle so I’m not sure Graham had anything to do with it.

    It was more than money, I think. To my eye, the rub came because T.J. was upset they didn’t come to him sooner for an extension. Although he never said it publicly (and for that you have to credit him) there had to be other reasons as well as family for not going to OTAs in 2007 and 2008.

    As he has said many times, if he had to do it over again, he’d stay. And if the Bengals had to do it over again, they probably would have given him the same deal in training camp of ’08.

    It looks to me like the fault line is a two-way street. It was as much Housh’s decision as the Bengals’.

  8. By mwindle1973 on Sep 21, 2010 | Reply

    Hobs…it was a two way street that’s my point. We were under Seattle’s offer by about 750K. Kind of stupid on both sides part to let that stand in the way.

    But I think your memory could be failing you, because the official story at least was that we couldn’t afford what TJ wanted because we had other priorities. One of which was to sign Graham at 2.5M for one season.

    So one can reason that if we had been smart enough to cut Graham get a 1.5M K and give TJ what he wanted we would have been better served.

    Because we had no passing game last year and Graham shanked his way off the team. It’s an obvious hindsight is 20/20 big time mistake. But one that was a lot easier call than say the Big WIllie/Stacy Andrews decision.

    But they definitely had to be aware they had that option. THat is to cut Graham and use the money for TJ. They thought he was too old to take the chance on. This has been an area of weakness for Mike Brown. And I’m not one to bash him. I think he does a good job. But he has often released vets when they hit 30-32, only to watch them go somewhere else and produce. Big Willie was cut because they felt he couldn’t practice consistantly. But guys as good as him don’t need to. And he proved it in Baltimore. Going to a new offense, missing lots of practice. But still started from about game 5 on, including in the AFC championship game.

    Marvin has really helped him to understand the value of vets. And hopefully they will continue to better judge a person’s waning skills. It’s kind of a crap shoot anyway.

  9. By coachwine on Sep 21, 2010 | Reply

    It drives me crazy when people boo a former Bengal. I don’t like the Ravens, but they were willing to pay the man to work for them, the Bengals weren’t. How many of us would refuse a job paying us a good salary just because it was a rival company? It’s a job.

    TJ gave us a lot of years. I was sorry his ego was hurt by the Bengals initial offers, but it was ego as much as anything else that drove him to Seattle. Without that ego/pride in his play, he would not have been the outstanding player he was for the Bengals for so many years. It’s always the pluses vs the minuses when making a decision who to play and pay. For a lot of years he had a LOT MORE pluses than minuses. We should respect and appreciate him for that rather than boo him. Silence would have been just as effective and far more respectful and appreciative.

  10. By whodeyjay on Sep 21, 2010 | Reply

    You will never hear me say that TJ wasn’t a hard worker and that he wasn’t the most reliable receiver that Cincinnati had for 20 years. He has a great work ethic and came to play, even injured, every Sunday. But what I will say is that even with T.O., Chad, and Adam Jones; we don’t have any locker room problems anymore……. Convenient.

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