The Cincinnati Bengals reportedly have contacted the attorney of a man recently convicted of killing two people in the city about playing for the team this season or as soon as he is released from prison.
“We’re trying to bring a certain toughness and aggression to this team that the Bengals have been lacking,” said head coach Marvin Lewis. “That is why we have renewed our effort to acquire as many players as we can with criminal records. It’s been my experience that you won’t find a tougher, harder football player than one who has served time or is at least willing to commit a felony."
Lewis says he saw this philosophy succeed in Baltimore when he helped coach the Ravens to a Super Bowl title. While the team has just signed Matt Jones and is reportedly interested in Pacman Jones and Donte Stallworth, the latest person on the team's radar isMark Vandenburg — a 25-year-old Cincinnati man and former high school football standout who was convicted last week for killing two people in a botched armed robbery attempt.
“They’ve been covering this guy’s case on the local news and I knew as soon as I saw him that we had to see if we could get him on our team,” said Lewis. “He’s ripped and, of course, he has the requisite criminal background. We can coach a guy up when it comes to football, but that criminal mindset is something that only a very few special ones have. And this guy has it.”
Lewis says the Bengals attorneys are working to overturn Vandenburg’s sentence or set up a work release program that would allow him to suit up for the team on Sundays this fall.
“It’s not like he’s a totally bad guy. He never intended to murder those people at the convenience store,” says Lewis. “He was just trying to rob the place, but then the cashier had to go and push the button under the counter to alert the police. So he had to kill them. What we want is for him to get released from jail so he can use that killer instinct to go after the quarterback. We’re hopeful that the Bengals fever that gripped this city in the past year will be enough for the judge to do us a favor here.”
Vandenburg would join the Bengals impressive – and rapidly growing – list of criminals and troublemakers including Jones, Larry Johnson, Cedric Benson andRey Maualuga.
“This is my seventh year with the Bengals, and I’m slowly but surely getting my kind of players in the system,” said Lewis. “I’m confident we’re close to winning a championship here. I want this city to have a team it can be proud of.”