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Another record for Football 101


Football 101 participants tour the Bengals locker room on Thursday. (Marvin Lewis Community Fund photo)

Darrin Simmons went into the bye week with his most memorable game during his 11 seasons as the Bengals special teams coordinator in last Sunday's 41-20 victory over the Browns.

A blocked punt for a touchdown. A partially blocked punt that set up a touchdown. A 27-yard punt return by cornerback Adam Jones that set up a field goal. Kevin Huber's longest punt of the year, a 66-yarder after the first series that set field position.

But he had never seen a TV cameraman hit with a line-drive field goal attempt as he stood under the crossbar. Which is what he saw Thursday night at Paul Brown Stadium.

"I hope he's all right," Simmons said after he and everyone else including the kicker recovered from laughing.

In Bengaldom, the bye never starts for head coach Marvin Lewis's assistants until Lewis hosts Football 101 Thursday night at Paul Brown Stadium. To celebrate the 10th annual event designed to educate women on football basics while honoring a local breast cancer survivor and raising money for the Marvin Lewis Community Fund, Lewis welcomed a record field of more than 200 ladies that beat 25 to the waiting list.

The word has spread. Kathryn Mottern got the prize for making the longest trip, 2,190 miles from Trabuco Canyon, Calif., and the 784 miles by runner-ups Angie Middleton and Stephany Trammell of Midlothian, Texas weren't exactly a cab ride.

After raising another record $190,000 for his community fund, Lewis presented the Pink Football to Josie Shuler to honor her fight that began more than five years ago with Stage 4 triple negative breast cancer. Told she had eight months to live, on Thursday night in front of her family, friends and doctors, she took the ball from Lewis cancer-free after undergoing experimental chemotherapy treatment.

Thursday night's program was just as lively. MC'ed by former Bengals cornerback and current Fox Sports national talk show host Artrell Hawkins, and spiced by video messages from quarterback Andy Dalton and defensive tackle Domata Peko, the evening was anchored by a major portion of Lewis's staff:

Assistant offensive line coach Kyle Caskey, linebackers coach Paul Guenther, assistants David Lippincott and Braydon Combs, tight ends coach Johnathan Hayes, defensive line coach Jay Hayes, quarterbacks coach Ken Zampese, wide receivers coach James Urban, offensive coordinator Jay Gruden, director of player development Eric Ball, secondary coach Mark Carrier, head strength coach Chip Morton and assistant Jeff Friday.

And it's a good enough cause that a PBS legend returned in the person of Jim Anderson, the longtime running backs coach who retired earlier this year after three decades.

Plus, there was Simmons coaching the ladies up on how to kick field goals and extra points and letting them try from the goal line off four tees. Simmons delivered his message in between shagging more footballs than A.J. Green.

"Foot placement, walk off, follow through," were his talking points.

"Kicking field goals and PATs is not as easy as it looks," said Simmons, a former Kansas punter, who only teaches kicking at 101. "Punting isn't as glamorous. They want to see the ball go through the uprights. The big misnomer is where the ball hits on your foot. Most people have no idea. It's on your instep, the middle of your instep."

While working with his first group, Simmons had a visitor. Kathi Huber, Huber's mother who volunteers every year for the event, took a break from helping the Carrier group and walked down to the end zone to say hello. But the seventh grade CYO Kickball champion didn't try a field goal.

"No," she said. "The year he got drafted (2009) we participated and we've been volunteers ever since. I didn't try (a field goal) then, either. Kevin may find out."

Simmons had plenty of takers. Some have whiffed completely. Some will hit cameramen. One lady who comes every year finally made her first kick last year.

"She said that was her goal. She must have kicked 30 balls," he said. "It's fun to see their faces when they make one."

Not exactly Mike Nugent at the gun. But on this night, at this event, in the rain, and 10 years strong, it hits home, too.

"For a good cause," Simmons said.

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