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Hobson's Choice Podcast: Eric Winston

Every time we see the name of Bengals tackle Eric Winston, his name is attached to all kinds of issues and topics. That happens when you're president of the NFL Players Association.

So we wanted to find out who this guy is instead of what he thinks about everything ranging from discipline to down blocks:

-He's always been extremely attuned to politics, which may date back to his maternal grandfather, a civic leader in Agawam, Mass., whom worked on John F. Kennedy's U.S. Senate campaign.

-He grew up in one of the country's high school football hotbeds in Midland, Tex., where future Bengals running back Cedric Benson was a teammate and future Bengals left tackle Andrew Whitworth was an opponent. He says the town shaped his "grinder," outlook.

-He was inspired to get involved in the union watching Texans teammate Mark Bruener and made the leap to president riding grass-roots support even though he didn't go through the traditional route of the executive committees.

"One of leadership," Winston says about his role. "Showing guys it's OK to be outspoken … I think a lot of guys for a lot of different reasons have been afraid to do that."

-One of his mentors is Tom DePaso, a Bengals linebacker in 1978 that went on to become a long-time NFLPA counsel and is now the general counsel.

"He's a little bit of a yin to my yang," Winston says.

-DePaso can remember a time when it would have been almost fantasy to see the hard-line tandem of Paul and Mike Brown have the union president on their roster. But Winston, who has been here for parts of four seasons, says Mike Brown, "has been great," and they don't talk business.

"He told me, 'I don't want you to think I'm ignoring you. I just don't want to mix the two,'" Winston says. "I appreciated that. That's the way he's always operated.  That's the way I always kind of operated."

We only slipped once when it came to asking about an issue. In the wake of the Bengals drafting Oklahoma running back Joe Mixon, we asked his opinion about the NFL banning from the scouting combine prospects that have off-field issues.

"I think it's a little crazy," Winston says. "You're basically saying, 'I'm going to try and deny you the opportunity to work.' It sounds a little ridiculous and, in a lot of ways, I think it's kind of un-American."

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