PHOENIX - New Bengals head coach Zac Taylor loves the fact he and his team are under the radar. The pundits are giving the AFC North to the Browns. Antonio Brown plays for the Raiders but his tweets against the Steelers are keeping Pittsburgh in the tabloids. The Ravens are dropping money on old Pro Bowlers.
One reporter came by Taylor's sparse table at Tuesday's NFL coaches media breakfast borrowing the old Bill Parcells line about its good taking a job after the team has a bad year since the media wasn't swarming.
"It doesn't bother me that the media is not swarming. That's not a problem," Taylor said. "I wish we could all be like Bill Parcells and select the job we want, I didn't know that was on the table. But this has worked out for me. I consider myself…I'm from Oklahoma, I don't know what that is, South, Midwest. I always thought it was Midwest, I've been told it's not, I'm learning that. But I've always felt like a Midwestern guy."
After much debate, Taylor has given himself a region.
"The Plains Region, Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma, I've lived in all of them," Taylor said. "We had a heated discussion one night amongst some of my friends from Iowa and Oklahoma and we settled on that. It's not the southwest, it's not the south. I kind of think it's the Midwest because of the people. The people are the same in Ohio as they are in Oklahoma, so to me, I group everyone together. But we've settled on ... I'm sure this is going to spark a whole online conversation, but it's a great place, and so that's where I'm from."
You also have to say he's got Texas roots that go pretty deep. When Taylor was coaching at Texas A&M, he recalled Tuesday that the families of the coaches shared a VIP box with George and Barbara Bush during games. Wife Sarah was pregnant with their first born and when Brooks arrived the baby received a pillow sewn by the former First Lady of the United States.
So you better add Texas in there, too.
TRADITION: Rich McKay, long-time chairman of the NFL Competition Committee who can find votes like an old-time House whip, knew he wasn't going to get Bengals president Mike Brown's vote this week. Not on instant replay.
But he didn't care about that when he gave him a hug.
"I love Mike. I was jacked when I saw him because I hadn't seen him in a while," McKay said. "He looks good."
Brown didn't make last year's meeting in Orlando, Fla., because he was recovering from hip surgery, but he returned this year with a new head coach and the same view of replay. After the owners voted 31-1 to approve a one-year trial for replay to include pass interference, called or not called on the field, reports emerged that the Bengals were the lone no vote.
But guys like McKay and jubilant Saints head coach Sean Payton, whose team was robbed of a Super Bowl berth because replay couldn't be used on a blatant defensive pass interference play, were still giving Brown their respect after the vote.
"I love Mike," said Payton, a former Miami of Ohio assistant that has long praised the Bengals' old school roots.
McKay, who served for about 20 years on the competition committee with Brown in the '90s and the oughts, knows Brown's argument against replay better than his own for it because they debated it so often.
"I was on the committee with him, I would respectfully say," McKay said. "Mike has a very good perspective on replay. His perspective is that replay is not perfect and replay is not a panacea and it's not going to solve everything. So when you build it up like it is, you're going to have issues."
And we've seen them. Complicated rules. Bewildered officials. Flummoxed coaches. Interminable delays. It's always been Brown's belief they let the genie out of the bottle in a futile effort to perfect imperfection.
"I think what's changed for me in our debate the last 15 years is the technology has gotten better," McKay said. "What we're looking at and the quality we're looking at is better. The fact we actually go back to New York and central replay now in my mind makes it better because we've eliminated some of the inconsistencies. I think the system is better than when we first debated it."
While NFL commissioner Roger Goodell patted the owners on the back for voting for the good of the game, he also uttered the key phrase. "It's not perfect." So when is the next firestorm? Not McKay vs. Brown, who just agree to disagree.
"He's a very smart person who loves the National Football League and has great passion for the game," McKay said. "I was just glad to see him."