Posted: 8:15 p.m.
File it under "It Happens Every Year."
"It's a little unsettling," Bengals strength coach Chip Morton said Thursday night, "to have to negotiate through the stretching line with purses all over the place."
If it's the bye week then it must be Football 101 as head coach Marvin Lewis opens up Paul Brown Stadium for what has turned out to be one of the most popular dates on the Cincinnati social and sports calendar. Another sold-out class of 375 women converged behind-the-scenes to get a crash course in the game from Lewis and some members of his staff on a night that culminated with a coach-to-quarterback communication device relay race that tested their newfound knowledge.
At $190 per pupil, 101 has proven to be one of the most reliable sources of fundraising for the Marvin Lewis Community Fund.
"You get women from all over," said Lindsay Reisert, the assistant director of MLCF. "You have the hardcore Bengals fans who save all year and you have executives and doctors who get involved from a community aspect."
You also have the spectacle of grizzled NFL coaches like Morton and associate strength coach Ray Oliver trying to get an organized stretch in to start the field drills with the PBS scoreboard blaring music and showing past video snippets of anything from Lewis having his picture taken to assistant secondary coach Louie Cioffi holding a tackling dummy for a blur of hair and blue jeans diving through the air.
After the stretch, the five groups headed to their first station: Offensive field drills, defensive field drills, chalk talk in the locker room with wide receivers coach Mike Sheppard, how to watch film taught by running backs coach Jim Anderson in the defensive meeting room, and an officiating clinic headed by former NFL official Paul Weidner in the offensive meeting room.
"The field drills are the most popular," Reisert said, but it is Morton and Oliver that have to get them ready.
"Right away, they started calling me 'Blushing,' '' said Morton, blushing after the stretch. "You have (375) women teasing you, and I guess you're going to blush.
Trying to get over 300 people organized when they have no idea what's going to happen next is kind of tough. But it's all in fun, it's for a great cause, we're just trying to get them going in the right direction."