It's not every day you come to work and a major historical figure wants to meet you. Especially the day after a nationally-televised loss.
But there was a man on the phone of Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis on Tuesday saying that Rev. Jesse Jackson, in town for a speech, wanted to come over to Paul Brown Stadium to say hello. Jackson, 69, the former college quarterback and civil rights activist who polled the most votes ever by an African-American presidential candidate 20 years before Barack Obama's election, knows the NFL.
"I admire him so much," Jackson said of Lewis as he stood in the Bengals locker room. "His character represents the best in all of us. Coach represents a persona that's true and good for the healing of people. I always judged him in that way and I admire him."
Wide receiver Chad Ochocinco had just left the stadium, but Lewis punched up his cell and called him so he could come back and meet Jackson.
"You've got to guess. Initials are J.J. Big historical name," Lewis told him. "No, bigger than that."
It was the first time Jackson met Lewis, but not the first time Jackson met Terrell Owens. The Bengals wide receiver just happened to be passing through and they caught up. When Owens was going through his difficult time in Philadelphia a few years ago, they met in Atlanta to talk after both had reached out to each other.
"We've kept in touch over the years. He'll reach out every now and then," Owens said. "Jesse's a guy that I would say is well versed in a lot of issues and topics. He talked to me about ways to handle different situations. Hindsight. You always find ways you could have done things differently. The way I went about some situations, I think it was more of a maturity thing more so than anything else. He's always going to be that voice for black people."
Jackson watched the game Monday night and saw Owens' monster 10-catch, 141-yard night, but he didn't mention the game. He talked to Owens on Tuesday about finding a home in Cincinnati.
"I told him I'm just doing what I can do," Owens said. "I'm only on a one-year deal. I'm just trying to do whatever I can."
Jackson is enjoying watching it.
"He still has the magic," said Jackson, who enjoys his personality. "It's attractive. Like Chad, he's entertaining. Every team he's played for he's made the team better. He does his work on the field. This year you're seeing a level of strength. For all of those who thought his career was over they see, like brandy, he has taken it to higher ground."
Lewis wanted to make sure Jackson got outfitted with some Bengals ware and made a mental note to steer him to the equipment room of Jeff Brickner and Adam Knollman. Asked if he had a favorite team, Jackson flashed the instincts of the politician that won nearly 30 percent of the delegates at the 1988 Democratic Convention.
"I'm from Chicago," he said.
But on Tuesday, he carried a few guys in the Bengals locker room.