Posted: 5:15 p.m.
AdamsSam Adams, a self-proclaimed new man after knee surgery, isn't spending the most bitter of offseasons looking back. He's looking in the mirror and hopes the rest of the Bengals are, too.
"I was part of the problem. I know that and I want to be part of the solution," Adams said Wednesday as he heads into his second week of rehab. "It's why I've stayed here and didn't go back home. I'm committed to the Bengals. I owe it to my coaches, my teammates, and the city."
Adams underlined "Bengals" as he ratchets up his marketing blitz for the Arena Football2 League season that opens March 31. Although Adams owns the Cincinnati Jungle Kats, the Bengals own him and he says his first priority is getting down to 330 pounds by the time the Kats open.
"We'll see by the end of March what's happening, but it's going to happen," said Adams, who played anywhere from 350 to 360 last season. "The fact my knee is better is going to let me lose the weight because any time I tried to lose it last year, it just blew up on me."
Watching Adams try to run off the field from defensive tackle between snaps last season made the bones grind in everyone's knees. He took a lot of heat in making just 25 tackles after arriving literally and figuratively as the biggest Bengals free-agent signing ever with three Pro Bowls in the previous six seasons.
The murmurings began in the spring camps when head coach Marvin Lewis wouldn't let him on the field for a variety of physical reasons, and continued through training camp until he had a dominating debut in the third preseason game against the Packers.
But he did more damage to his already balky knee that night and though he didn't get any credit for it, he sucked it up and shot up the knee to start all 16 games knowing he needed arthroscopic surgery after the season.
"They went into my knee and cleaned it out. They found Jimmy Hoffa in there," Adams said. "This is how bad it felt. It felt better right after the surgery than it did all season. It's not a totally new knee, but it doesn't have the weaknesses. I guess I probably should have had it done before the season. I didn't do what I had to do to get ready, but I'm going to be ready to go."
Adams not only says he'll get down to 320 pounds, but he says he'll be on the field for May and June camps. Lewis emphasized last week that Adams has to be healthy enough to practice if he's going to stick after a year he could barely practice once a week.
And Adams has been around long enough to know that teammates prefer their teammates to practice if they're going to play on Sundays. Practice time looks to be a reason why the Bengals don't appear to be pursuing former Pro Bowl linebacker LaVar Arrington, a Lewis favorite released earlier this week by the Giants.
Arrington, who turns 29 in June, lost most of last season to a torn Achilles. Even before that he had already been limited in training camp and practices with a knee still recovering from a severe injury suffered late in the 2004 season.
But Adams, who turns 34 in June, says he's already doing more with the knee than he could do last year. Don't underestimate his pride. This is a guy who was the eighth pick in the draft, has won a Super Bowl ring, has started 10 playoff games and he doesn't want to go out like this.
"Every guy has to look at himself," Adams said. "Hey, what I did last year wasn't good enough. So I'm looking at getting myself better."
Adams isn't so sure the off-field problems have contributed to the team's demise on the field. But he doesn't think it's helped either.
"Sometimes you have to take a step back before you take a step forward," he said. "We have to continue to grow as men. We've got to get to a point where we're not throwing up our hands and looking around. I'm looking in the mirror. I'm looking at what I have to do.
"Where (the off-field problem) hurts us is being a negative influence in the community. We can't do that. We have to be positive."
Adams is doing his part as owner of the Kats. He has offered his services to Bengals director of player relations Eric Ball for speaking engagements at schools and organizations this winter, and that will also help give his indoor team more of a profile.
Adams hosts 'Select Your Seat' night a week from Thursday at 7 p.m. at U.S. Bank Arena. Adams will be there to meet and greet and sign specially designed game balls already autographed by fellow owner Ken Griffey Jr. Tryouts then take place two days later on Feb. 24 at Cincinnati Sports Mall before the season starts the last day of March at home against the Quad City Steamers.
While he's dropping pounds, he'll be adding season tickets.
"We've already sold about 1,000," Adams said. "We're looking to sell about 500 the rest of this month, and then another 1,000 next month."