By the end of each and every training camp there is always at least one player who is cut that causes something of a stir. Typically this isn’t one of the team’s marquee players, but does sometimes come in the form of a starter or key backup. There are a few prime candidates on the Bengals this season who could become the next victim of the proverbial chopping block.
One such man whose hopes of having a great season may be dashed before it even begins, is the world’s traveler, Dhani Jones. There are many solid reasons as to why Jones should remain with the team—a veteran presence among a youthful linebacker corps, a cerebral and analytical player who reads before he reacts, and the simple fact that he adds depth to a near-suicidally dangerous job—to name a few.
Yet if a cold, indifferent computer program were to analyze the roster, it would zero in on Dhani and without hesitation—only an old, crappy computer like mine ever hesitates— label him as expendable. He’s old for a position that has the life span of a goldfish (my fish tank is positioned so that my goldfish can read this and they’re now glaring at me with contempt).
With the new wave of Keith Rivers, Rey Maualuga and Brandon Johnson settled in as the future of Bengal linebacking, Dhani is simply keeping a seat warm, and how much does one pay for a person to do that? If players like Darryl Blackstock or Rashad Jeanty impress the coaching staff enough during training camp, team management may feel more comfortable letting Jones go, especially if an intriguing free agent were to be let go elsewhere and the team needed to free up some cap-space to procure him.
I like the guy. I enjoy his eccentricities, like riding his bike to the stadium with his hipster jeans rolled to his calf, brandishing his army-green wool socks, listening to his ipod and carrying a smallish backpack with probably philosophical reading material inside.
And, of course, his television show where he travels the world and competes in zany sports that Americans think they’ve only recalled seeing in a movie somewhere before has done wonders for his public image and fan base. Another certain eccentric character on the Bengals roster could do well to notice how one can intrigue the public in a refined and dignified manner such as Dhani’s.
Nonetheless, football is serious business where friendships are cast off to the side with the sweaty towels, and even teammates must compete against each other—particularly in the summer months. Jones could be seen as something like the grizzle on the edges of a succulent steak; good for seasoning and flavor during its preparation and broiling, but not something you necessarily want to eat.
His main priority in the short-term is to season the youngsters who are thought to be the main course of the future. Once training camp has resolved itself and Dhani is not counted among the surviving 53 players, we as fans can take solace in knowing that he has passed on sage wisdom to his successors. Such a scenario sounds very similar to the fate of Willie Anderson.
I sincerely hope I’m wrong.