A.J. Green rolled into Radio Row Thursday with some thoughts on 2015.
PHOENIX, Ariz. _ You never know who you're going to meet on Radio Row at the Super Bowl.
Like Thursday at the Phoenix Convention Center.
Underneath the bellow of Ickey Woods' signature "Whoooo," A.J. Green is quietly urging the Bengals to stick with the current core of players and says he wouldn't mind getting a long-term contract done before this season. Meanwhile, his fellow wide receiver, Mohamed Sanu, wearing a snappy code red blazer, says the Bengals have all the talent they need to get here and all they need is a change in mindset.
Also in the house the day before were Bengals offensive coordinator Hue Jackson down playing the Pro Bowl and Joe Buck, the voice of four Super Bowls, offering a play-by-play of his family face timing with Leah Still Christmas Eve.
Let's go around the room:
THE FRANCHISE: By time he showed up on the ProFootballTalk set at 12:35 p.m. local time, Green had been out on his feet since 8 a.m. and there was more to come. After coming from the Dan Patrick Show somewhere on a cactus ranch, Green had the party line set because everybody, of course, is asking about the Bengals trip in the desert with no play-off wins.
"What I'm saying is if we win a play-off game, nobody is going to be talking about what we have to do to get over the hump," Green said.
"What do you have to do get over the hump?"
"Win a playoff game," Green said.
"How do you win a playoff game?"
"Don't turn the ball over, play defense, and run the ball," Green said.
Green says he wants to play better in big games and noting his career best 224 yards in one of the biggest games of the season, against the Steelers at Paul Brown Stadium, he said, "We lost. I have to find another way.
"I think we're on the right path. We've built too much to start over again."
The Bengals are scheduled to pay Green $10 million this year, the last of his five-year deal. They extended quarterback Andy Dalton last year early in camp before his last season and Green says he'd love to get an extension before this season.
"That's how they did it with Andy. I'm sure we'll try to talk about something," Green said.
MO, MO MORE: Sanu had the same answer as Green. Asked who he's picking to win Sunday, Sanu said, "Bengals."
Really. Both are mad they're not here. Sanu thinks they can get here with a few mental adjustments.
"We have what we need," Sanu said. "We just have to find a way to change our mindset where we have the confidence and swagger and know we belong and can play with anybody."
Sanu looks at Sunday's teams: "They know they can beat anybody."
He says the Bengals not only have enough talent, but leadership and points to himself, Green, Dalton, and left tackle Andrew Whitworth as just some of the guys that asserted themselves.
"What we need is we have to come in there and find a way to make plays in key situations and lean on each other," Sanu said. "We're playing for each other. It's more of a brotherhood than you think. So you have to be tighter than you think are and rely on the person next to you more than you think you are."
THE ICKSTER: Which is what Al Michaels called him after Woods scored a TD in a 1990 Monday nighter in Cleveland.
Wearing an "Every Day I'm Shuffling,' T-Shirt, Woods made the rounds raising money and awareness for Mike Ditka's Gridiron Greats assistance fund that helped fix both of Woods' battered knees. It has now been 26 years since he first did the Ickey Shuffle to celebrate a TD and 23 years since he last carried the ball in an NFL Game. And thanks to last fall's Geico commercial that revived The Shuffle in, of all places, a deli line, his popularity has soared to all-time heights
As Hall-of-Fame running backs Eric Dickerson and Marshall Faulk slipped anonymously by, Woods and his 1,525 yards moved with a crowd taking pictures and asking him to "Whooo ."
(Woods stopped Dickerson and after they hugged he asked Dickerson to check his availability for May 4, the day of the golf outing benefitting the foundation for Woods' late son. Dickerson checked his phone, saw he was free and told Woods to call him "at the same number.")
Yes, Woods is more famous than when he was famous.
"I knew it was going to be decent, but I didn't know it was going to be this big, I promise you," Woods said of the commercial. "I never, never thought in my wildest dreams something as simple as doing a commercial in a grocery store and slamming down some cold cuts and yelling a little bit would get me back in the limelight."
Woods thought back to his Super Bowl, the Heartbreak Hotel in Miami, and he still wonders why the Bengals didn't run the ball that night as much as they ran it during the season.
"To lose it in the last 34 seconds was real heartbreaking. That's what me and (James Brooks) couldn't understand," Woods said of their 26 combined rushes. " We voiced our opinion about it, and Sam (Wyche) took us to the bench and was telling everybody to stop being selfish. 'We can run and pass the ball.'
"Then after the game they talked about Boomer's shoulder hurting. It wouldn't have hurt his shoulder to hand the ball this way and hand the ball that way. That's neither here or there. That's over 25 years ago. It was a great game. We still had opportunities to win."
MVP: Two former Bengals running backs briefly met Thursday when Woods ran into Tony Davis, the club's fourth-round pick in 1976 out of Nebraska. After Woods went to his next stop, Davis had a trivia question: name the Bengals 1977 MVP who had just one start.
Davis, who played in Cincy three seasons, says it was him with 81 yards on 27 carries. But he had 12 tackles on special teams, blocked a punt, and forced a fumble. Now an oil and gas executive, Davis is in town in his role as an advocate for former players.
Bengals offensive coordinator Hue Jackson stopped by to do some interviews on The Row and he plans to lunch with Green here at some point. He had no concerns about Dalton's struggles in the Pro Bowl.
"Didn't watch it," Jackson said. "If I'm not coaching him, it doesn't matter to me."
It sure sounds like Jackson came extremely close to being named the Bills head coach a few weeks ago. He was on standby and there were people looking for flights to Buffalo. But the next day the Bills new owners apparently fell hard for Rex Ryan in his second interview and the deed was suddenly done.
But Jackson felt engaged in the process because Kim and Terry Pegula, the new owners, were so involved.
"I think it was great that they were looking for the best person and best fit for them and the way they were involved it was outstanding," Jackson said. "It just wasn't a general manager. It was the real true decision makers that made what they thought was the best decision for the organization and that's the way it should be."
It will be recalled when he called this year's World Series on Fox, Buck's sign in the Stand up to Cancer segment was for Leah Still, the four-year-old daughter of Bengals defensive lineman Devon Still.
Buck's wife, ESPN's Michelle Beisner, has done two extensive features on the Stills, including a visit to Disney World that Beisner put together.
"It's become more than a story on ESPN," Buck said. "We think about her a lot. Michelle will call Devon and they'll talk and Leah will get on the phone."
Christmas Eve was one of those moments. There are so many elements of the story that resonate with Buck, an advocate for St. Jude's Children's Hospital. Not the least of which are Buck's daughters, 18 and 14.
"Just seeing the change that Devon has undergone from even when Michelle sat down with him at the beginning of the season to where he is today," Buck said. "Knowing the big heart that he has and this little girl that Michelle has become friends with. Just seeing how powerful and strong this girl is, it's just awesome. The odds are stacked against her, but she's one of those kids and this is one of those families you just don't bet against."
Buck also had a quick take on calling a Super Bowl.
"Eliminating the noise and realizing this is like Week Eight," he said. "If you treat this any different than Week Eight, you're not being true in Week Eight and you're making a mistake now."