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Morris steals another Cincy show

Jennifer Shick loves the Marvin Lewis Community Fund.

A self-acclaimed "Cincinnati Public Schools kid," she loves how the fund nurtures and cultivates the students that need it most. It is why she didn't bat an eye at the events of Saturday night's live auction at Cadillac Ranch that benefits the fund and sets up Sunday's golf tournament.

Also a mega Bengals fan, one minute she was about to bid her annual $3-5,000 or so for one of Lewis' trips to a road game that features tickets and pregame field passes. Every year when one of those trips surfaces as Lewis holds the microphone auctioneering, he looks at her like Bobbie Williams or Leon Hall or any other go-to veteran. On Saturday night she and husband Michael Savage had been looking at the Seattle trip.

But, all of a sudden it became $15,000.

"Very quickly," she said.

That's because Tampa Bay coach Rahim Morris showed up. The last time we saw Morris, he stole a 21-14 Bengals victory in the last three minutes and made it a 24-21 loss back on Oct. 10 that can arguably be called the dividing line of the Bengals 4-12 season that started 2-2. This time, he stole the show when he grabbed the microphone from Lewis and sold the Seattle trip himself.

Morris thought the $2,000 start was a bit bland, so he volunteered to add four Super Bowl tickets for next February in Indianapolis. That got Shick to $9,000 pretty quickly. Moore liked the sound of $10,000, so he guaranteed it when he upped the ante again with four club seats at a Tampa Bay game, plus hotel rooms.

Lewis looked at Shick and her hand was in the air.

Not surprising, really. Shick and Savage not only donate money, but they volunteer their time to the fund's various projects for children.

"I'm so proud to have finally found a foundation that focuses so much on the schools," said Shick, a Walnut Hills High School grad. "You can't help but be inspired by how talented these kids are and how much they have to overcome."

What is surprising, at least to the media that covered that week leading up to the Bengals-Bucs game, was Lewis and Morris working the crowd like they were Lewis and Martin, and Morris digging deeper and deeper into his pockets.

Call it the Dez Briscoe Travel Package.

It will be recalled that when the Bengals cut sixth-round pick Dez Briscoe just before the season, the plan was to put him on the practice squad. That was before the Bucs offered him a full minimum salary to come to their practice squad instead of the standard $5,000 or so a week. Briscoe went to Tampa Bay and five weeks later in his weekly news conference before the Bucs game, Lewis fired a salvo about not adhering to the spirit of the rules. Morris fired one back about minding his own business.

"That's business," Morris said. "This is about the community. The bigger picture. It's not about whether you have a disagreement on the field or don't like him on game day. That has nothing to do with it. (Lewis) is one of the guys that paved the way for me. I know that. I respect that. I appreciate that."

Morris is one of several African-American coaches that has come into the NFL since Lewis took the Bengals job in 2003. Heading into his ninth season, Lewis has the longest tenure of any African-American coach with one club in the history of the AFC.

Morris said it just sort of happened after he grabbed the mic. And he did it so smoothly he sounded like he was on PBS. It sounded like he got the idea for the Super Bowl tickets from his prediction the Bengals play the Bucs in it this trip.

"I wanted to support Marvin. He's always supported me," Morris said. "Spur of the moment. That's what it is. It's for the people, it's for the community."

It looked like one of the top guns in the foundation, Lindsay Reisert, was trying to sign up Morris for next year. It proved to be a harbinger of a pretty good night for the auction that took a hit from the NFL lockout, which prevented the fund from acquiring the amount of signed memorabilia they usually get from the Bengals and other teams in the NFL.

Players are usually in town for OTAs when the auction and golf tournament are held, but this year they had to send the items to the players and hope for a return. Plus, Lewis had to get permission from the league to allow his foundation to get in touch with players to sign items and to invite them to Saturday's V.I.P party and Sunday's tournament.

And they can't talk football if they bump into each other.

"I thought it would be more of an impact than it was," Reisert said. "But a lot of the players thankfully sent stuff back like Leon Hall, Bobbie Williams, Rey Maualuga. And we had a great crowd tonight. About 350 people. It looks like there may not be that much of a difference and that we may have done pretty well."

That will happen when you've got a guy like Morris turning a $3,000 item into $15,000. And when Lewis did some spur of the moment stuff himself and tripled one of the items. He was selling a trip to Paul Brown Stadium for a skull session with himself and offensive coordinator Jay Gruden for $2,000. He ended up selling three of them at $2,000 each and will get help from defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer.

Zimmer, of all things, ended up with the Maualuga jersey in the silent auction. He had his eye on the Joey Votto jersey, but he knows No. 58 is worth something, too. He has high hopes for Maualuga; a player he admires and believes can be a big-time player with consistency. He still won't say officially he's moving Maualuga to middle linebacker.

"Man, this is heavy," Zimmer joked as he picked up the frame. "He better play well now."


» Zimmer hasn't forgotten about that Tampa Bay loss. You know he's been watching a lot of that game in the offseason. And you bet he's got plenty of those snaps from his "Crucial Situation Tape" that he's made for his defense but can't show them yet because of the lockout.

"I can't wait for them to get there so I can show it to them," Zimmer said. "We'd played well at times last year, but we'd break down& on crucial plays. We have to keep focus, we have to keep thinking. It just wasn't Tampa, but we gave up a lot of points in two-minute drills in the half or late in the game."

» Hall and fellow cornerback Morgan Trent were in the crowd Saturday and are expected to play in the tourney Sunday.

» One of the highlights of Saturday is eavesdropping on the franchise's first Pro Bowl passing tandem of quarterback Ken Anderson and wide receiver Isaac Curtis.

Anderson says Curtis was great for so many reasons, one of them being that he was a football player that was also a world-class sprinter and not the other way around. Curtis says if the Bengals won their first Super Bowl, there is no doubt Anderson would already be in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

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