BY GEOFF HOBSON
Boomer Esiason came to town today for Bruce Coslet's Executives For Charity golf tournament, another day in a whirlwind year he pushes the fight to beat Cystic Fibrosis, the disease son Gunnar continues to battle.
Between shots at Mason's Heritage Club, Esiason revealed ClearChannel approached him about being an analyst on the Bengals' radio team, but he just wasn't ready to be away from home 21 weekends a year as he recovers from his firing as ABC's analyst on Monday Night Football.
But he'll still dole out his opinions on WLW-AM 700 during the season. It's funny, but Esiason, the most outspoken Bengal of all-time, said he understands where the club is coming from in the "Carl Pickens Clause," as the Bengals try to prevent big-money players from forcing their release with public blowups.
While Esiason is concerned about right of free speech, he agrees with Bengals President Mike Brown that players shouldn't be allowed to freely undermined their teams.
Esiason never shied away from taking on management, but Brown said, "I could tolerate that. He never undermined his coaches. He never did what Carl did. Carl put us in a position with comments that couldn't be accepted."
Esiason: "Because Mike knew I was always a team player. I understand where he's coming from. Everybody's got a certain price. He had me sign a clause saying I couldn't do a TV or radio show. I put a price on it and he paid it. Anything is possible.
"It could be a thing people are reading the wrong way. He just doesn't want guys ripping their teammates or coaches. It's a way of keeping guys in line without having to fine them. I'm sure these contracts are going to get tweaked and continued to get tweaked. If a guy signs and he's getting paid the money, it's part of the contract. I'd want the guy fined no matter how bad the team is."
Esiason has been getting the sympathy treatment from people who say they feel badly about the ABC firing. But Esiason tells them he only lost one of his jobs. He's got the WLW gig, has a weekly national show on the Westwood One radio network (where he says he turned down their analyst job), he's writing for Dad's and NFL Insider magazines, and continues to do about 50 events a year for CF.
It just sounds like he's too busy to be on the third CBS-TV announcing team doing New England vs. Cleveland.
"Don't worry about me, I've got plenty of work," Esiason said. "I just want to calm down a little bit right now and not do so much travel."
Coslet's tournament is one of 25 CF golf events he attends, many run by his friends. He says Coslet and Gunnar have a special relationship because Coslet was the Jets head coach when Gunnar was diagnosed with CF when he was 2 in 1993.
"I was on the field for a half hour, got pulled off, told to get back to Cincinnati," Esiason said. "I called Bruce from Cincinnati. He was one of the first people who knew, and since that day he's been so supportive and it means so much to be here."
* BLAKE ON THE RUN:* Another former Bengals quarterback, Jeff Blake, showed up at Colset's event. It's one of the first times he's been back since signing a $17 million deal with the Saints on the first day of free agency back in February. "I've got nothing against Bruce and Kenny (Anderson)," Blake said of his head coach and offensive coordinator, respectively. "I'm getting loved on (in New Orleans). They welcomed me with open arms. They appreciate a veteran quarterback down there who's put some points on the board. They appreciate a guy who's endured through the bad and good." Blake has been reading about the new Bengal way (plush facilities, new practice uniforms, bigger towels) and said, "That stuff helps, but you have to have it in your heart." He says the Saints' philosophy on offense is simple: "Run Rickey run," said Blake of running back Ricky Williams. "The pass is going to set up the run. We'll get them falling back (into a deep zone) and then just run the ball all day."
*PICKENS PURGATORY: *Carl Pickens remains in NFL purgatory. He isn't listed on the depth chart. He's not on the roster. And yet he'll remain a Bengal until at least the July Fourth holiday. The NFL and NFL Players Association are having difficulty getting together to lock up a settlement that would result in Pickens' release in exchange for the Bengals to keep their franchise player tag.
* WALKER CLAIMED:*The Bengals were delighted when they claimed college free agent punter/kickoff man Jay Walker off waivers from the Redskins today. They nearly drafted him twice, in the sixth round and then in the seventh round, before failing to nail him down as a free agent. Mike Brown said next to first-round pick Sebastian Janikowski, Walker was the most eye-opening kicker at the scouting combine.