1-27-04, 7:50 a.m.
BY GEOFF HOBSON
Two of the biggest names in Bengals' history officially joined forces Monday to contribute to the biggest cause in the Greater Cincinnati community when head coach Marvin Lewis and Hall of Fame left tackle Anthony Munoz continued their charitable efforts for youth by merging their foundations.
"It's a nice way to connect the new and the past," said Lewis, who established the Marvin Lewis Community Fund in his first season as coach last year. "Anthony obviously has passion and success for what he has done for children and mentoring and if we can do more by working together, it's a wonderful opportunity."
The funds generated by the Anthony Muñoz Foundation help support its youth programs and the Anthony Muñoz Scholarship Fund. Other beneficiaries include Big Brothers Big Sisters of Greater Cincinnati, the Anthony Muñoz /NFL Alumni Health Center, Cincinnati Recreation Commission, Athletes in Action and City Cure.
Lewis' foundation supports Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Cincinnati, Boys Hope Girls Hope, the Marvin Lewis Scholar-Athlete Scholarship Fund, Minorities in Mathematics, Science & Engineering, Multiple Sclerosis Society, Youth, Inc. and Success by Six.
"Marvin made it pretty clear right away how much the community meant to him," said Munoz, as popular now in Cincinnati as he was after he finished his 13-year career in 1992. "I forget the great stat, but he made something like 20 appearances in his first 60 days on the job. It was amazing and shows how much he's committed. The big thing is he's also trying to set an example for his players to do the same thing, and we haven't really seen that in the last 10, 11 years."
The centerpiece of the merger is the Quarterback Club, a regional group of CEOs committed to raise $1 million every two years and, "identify community needs and creative, interactive solutions." The idea is based on private and public sector collaborations with the businesses committed to contributing $25,000 annually in cash and in-kind services. The dollars raised are to be used for initiatives created by the Quarterback Club as well as supporting existing regional non-profit organizations.
The club has commitments from 12 regional leaders with plans for 20. The list already includes some of the area's most innovative corporations such as AK Steel, Baker Concrete, Castellini & Associates, Cincinnati Bell, Cincinnati Financial Corp., Cintas Corporation, Convergys Corporation, Corporex Companies, Inc., E.W. Scripps, Federated Department Stores, GE Aircraft Engines, Heritage Management, Procter & Gamble and Reach USA.
Lewis and Muñoz plan to have several meetings throughout the year to pinpoint community needs and make strategic, regional recommendations for programs and initiatives, according to the statement released by the foundations Monday.
Lewis, headed to Houston Monday to do some work for the NFL Network at the Super Bowl, had planned to appear with Munoz at a news conference at Taft High School announcing the plans. Bad weather scratched the event, but not Lewis' enthusiasm.
"I really think the Quarterback Club is an excellent way to get all parts of the community involved," Lewis said. "The way coaching takes up so much of my time, Anthony is going to be able to do things that I might not be able to get to."
SPREAD THE WORD:** The Bengals' offense got some pub Monday at the Super Bowl when Panthers safety Mike Minter talked about the problems New England's spread offense is going to cause them in Sunday's Super Bowl. Carolina spent the past week going over how they've done against similar offenses and Minter says no one was better out of the spread against them than the Bengals two years ago.
Even though the Panthers beat the Bengals, 52-31, back on Dec. 8, 2002 in Carolina, Minter came away extremely impressed with their wide receivers and quarterback Jon Kitna. Kitna hit 25 of 37 passes for 295 yards and two touchdowns, while Chad Johnson had six catches for 114 yards and Peter Warrick had three for 52 yards and two touchdowns.
"The receivers were very good. They came in and scored 30-plus points on us," Minter said. "We went back and we watched our pre-season game with (the Pats) two years ago and that is what they did. They opened up with a spread-out offense, so we have had some practice against that. Cleveland did that also. Cincinnati did it against us last year and they were probably more effective at doing it than anyone else. I'm surprised they've gone back to their conventional offense, but when they were in a spread offense, they were causing problems."
With the Pats' beleaguered offensive line going against the NFL's best defensive front Sunday, the Panthers are expecting to get a big dose of quarterback Tom Brady's quick three-step drops out of the spread.
"When you talk about dumping the ball off three or four yards at a time, you really don't get set up as an offense," Minter said. "You have to go quickly. That causes a lot of problems. The one thing you have to do is hit Tom Brady to get him out of that. You have to get him back to that conventional stuff. Then you will be OK. Get to Tom Brady. The teams that did get to Tom Brady, they got out of it quick."