Some things just hit the wrong way.
Can Cincinnati fans forgive second-year defender Joseph Ossai for that no-doubt late hit on Patrick Mahomes, setting up an infinitely more makeable game-winning field goal for Kansas City Sunday night to decide the AFC Championship?
That will come faster than the Bengals should forgive another linebacker, Germaine Pratt, for shouting at Ossai minutes later as the team filed into the dressing room. “Why the hell (actually, he used another word) you touch the QB?!!!”
I’ll bet Ossai, 22, lasts a lot longer with the Bengals and in the NFL than Pratt, who is now the poster boy for Teammate You Don’t Want.
A day later, Pratt tried to explain himself. He failed, again.
“I was emotional. I was in the moment. I was wrong. As a man, you can look in the mirror and say I wasn’t a great teammate at that moment.”
All true. All lacking accountability – not to mention, an apology. Not even a hint of one. Then, this gem ….
“That don’t define me as a man.”
And this: “The brotherhood we built around here is unmatched.”
What color is the sky in Pratt’s universe? Football people like to say it’s the ultimate team game. Pratt’s outburst, however “in the moment,” defines him as somebody unreliable, certainly not a player I’d want to count on.
Some things just hit the right way.
Exhibit A Monday: B.J. Hill, the Teammate You Hope To Be. Hill stood next to a graceful but still misty-eyed Ossai during postgame interviews, like an older brother, “deflecting” some questions that were harsh. Normally that would get a thumbs down from yours truly, but in this moment, after Ossai sat sobbing on the Bengals bench as the game ended, as he patiently fielded questions about his mistake afterwards — and admitted his gaffe — I’m sure there were moments when queries danced near the line of unintentional cruelty. Nobody complained about what Hill said or did.
Best thing I heard Monday: Pratt is in the final year of his contract. Easiest prediction: he’ll find a job in the NFL, but it won’t be back in Cincinnati. With what we’ve seen from Bengals coach Zac Taylor, who has transformed a burning dumpster fire of a franchise, Pratt’s mistake will be the last thing he does on that team.
For his part, Ossai was trying to deal with the reality that his blunder – full-speed, but foolish – all but ended Cincinnati’s shot to return to the Super Bowl. He was comforted by the rest of his teammates in the locker room Sunday night.
“It’s given me peace right now, for sure.”
Contact Doug at firstname.lastname@example.org