BUFFALO - The one Bengal who has played 18 games in a professional football season thinks the NFL is going to be playing that many as soon as the 2012 season.
Former Bengals offensive lineman Dave Lapham, the club's long-time radio analyst who played the extra games in the USFL in 1984 and 1985, admits he couldn't raise his arms above his head after that first season. But he was also 32 and had just played 42 games in less than a year counting the 20 he played with the Bengals in 1983.
"When you're 22, 23, 24, you feel like you can play again on Wednesday," Lapham says. "When you're 32, 33, 34, you're starting to feel pretty good on Saturday and then you have to play the next day. It's definitely going to be harder on the older guys."
Lapham is all for blowing up preseason games, but he wonders if the league will add a scrimmage with another team to take the place of one of the games. He also admits it's going to open a Pandora's Box of issues in negotiations.
"If I'm a player, I'm asking the union about getting retirement after three years (instead of four)," Lapham says. "How many guys are going to make it to four years with that pounding? People say, 'What's another two games?' If you're a nine-year guy, you've played an extra season under the old format. You get to the midpoint of the season and there's nine games left instead of eight, that's a factor."
Lapham came from the era of the offseasons when there were just one, three-day minicamp and six weeklong training camps. He can see the May and June camps being ditched and training camps not as long as the old days, and he doesn't think it would impact the quality of play.
"None," he says. "Look at the '80s and '90s. Great players are going to be great players. It didn't affect Jerry Rice or Anthony Muñoz. The guys who skate and try to get by are still going to try and get by and not be in shape and the great ones are going to work at it every day."
Lapham remembers that 1975 season the Bengals played in the Hall of Fame Game for the first time and how it was the first of seven preseason games during a nine-week training camp.
"Seven games that meant absolutely nothing," he said. "You play 11 in college and here you have seven that don't even count. It was ridiculous."
After that '84 season with the New Jersey Generals, Lapham remembers lying in the waters of Cape Cod for a month.
"I was looking for a natural whirlpool," he said. "I just let the ocean heal me."
BROWN SENDS REGARDS: One of those getting inducted into the Cleveland Browns inaugural ring of honor is Bengals founder Paul Brown, the coach of Cleveland's franchise for its first 17 seasons and the man for whom the team was named. Brown's son, Bengals president Mike Brown, has been invited to the Sept. 19 ceremony, but that is also the day of the Bengals home opener at Paul Brown Stadium against the Baltimore Ravens, the old Cleveland Browns.
Bengals public relations director Jack Brennan said Friday that Mike Brown has sent his thanks and wished the Browns well, but he said the Bengals game that day is the club's top priority.