Putting it on the line

11-1-02, 3:40 p.m.

BY GEOFF HOBSON

Right tackle Willie Anderson and his offensive line are making a new list and they will no doubt check it more than twice by the time they end the season against the Bills four days after Christmas.

"It's kind of funny and it's kind of sad when you look at our goal sheet up on our board," said Anderson this week when he sat down with bengals.com on audio.

"There are 10 or 12 things we want to accomplish in each game. We've got a certain amount of rushing yards and we only did that two times before the last game. We're going to start a new list. From the Houston game to the Buffalo game. Let's change the list. . .You can't start from scratch. You have to recognize we played bad and have to swallow it down."

Anderson is putting what is left of this nightmarish season on the offensive line and the running game and is looking for his linemates to bounce back from extreme disappointment by being "mentally tough enough."

Life as a Bengal has not been good. Anderson hears the jokes and insults. But a trip to Children's Hospital last week, although heartbreaking, made him look at things from a different point of view for at least awhile.

"About 12 of us from our Bible study group went," Anderson said. "You see kids dying. Parents sitting with their kids sick. You hear about kids who never

leave the hospital for the rest of their lives. We were all sitting there. Corey, myself, Takeo, Brian. A lot of different guys went. And you saw people with real problems. The problems we have, it's still a game. But you want to win."

Anderson talked to Dillon during that trip and it's there they realized they are both thinking the same thing. That this team is going nowhere without the running game. Anderson reminded Dillon how back in 1997 Boomer Esiason simply scared teammates into playing well and how Dillon can do the same thing now.

"(Esiason) had been to the Super Bowl," Anderson said. "He had the prestige, fame, money, everything. He had it all.

"He had the power to go in the paper and rip me and everybody would believe him," Anderson said. "I didn't have any juice. That's the fear."

After the crushing 34-7 loss to the Steelers that was so brutal because it sent the Bengals into their bye week in a flaming wreckage, Anderson hung around to sign about 20 autographs. He had hosted kids from the Cincinnati Boys and Girls Club for their first live NFL game and he sat on a cart underneath the stadium signing while dying inside.

But Anderson likes kids. His dream is to open rec centers for needy children, where academics and real-life skills are stressed as much as athletics. He likes the idea of takings kids on a field trip to meet Bill Gates instead of Michael Jordan. His role model is the business savvy Magic Johnson.

"God put me here for a reason," Anderson said, "and the reason isn't just to play football and make lot of money. It's to make an impact on people's lives and show people there is a God. There are a lot of other things worse than the Bengals not winning games and going 0-7."

To hear the entire interview, please click.

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