8-27-03, 4:30 a.m.
Marvin Lewis looked out his window at Steelers' training camp and knew that Greg Lloyd was simply venting.
"It was 15 minutes after curfew and there was No. 95," said Lewis, then the Steelers linebackers coach in charge of the Pro Bowler. "No shirt on. Just trunks. His golf bag is right there and he's got his driver out hitting balls. Emptied the bag."
The Steelers had just cut David Little, Lloyd's best friend, and this was Lloyd's way of dealing with it. So Lewis had an idea this week that he had to treat wide receiver Peter Warrick with kid gloves when the Bengals decided to cut his friend, fellow receiver, and football soulmate Ron Dugans.
"I'm going to walk with my man Peter," Lewis said as the Bengals walked off the field after a Dugans-less practice. "You all right, Peter?"
Warrick is the first to tell you he was fuming when he got the word. They came out of Florida State and became the first rookies from the same college to open the NFL season as a team's starting wide receivers in 2000. Warrick nearly won the Heisman and Dugans the Oscar for "Best Supporting Actor." Yes, Warrick scored the three touchdowns in the Sugar Bowl for the national title, but did you know Dugans scored twice and caught 81 balls those last two years? Some called him Warrick's conscience, reminding him at times how to do it right.
The Bengals took Warrick fourth in the draft, and he jetted in from New York in time to gaze at the Paul Brown Stadium draft board and urge the Bengals to take Dugans in the second round. They did in the third.
"I know his feelings are hurt," Warrick said after practice Tuesday. "He's just like a brother to me. When he's hurt, I'm hurt.
"You know that's hard for me," Warrick said. "Not just because he's a great football player, but a friend as well. It's hard to see him go like that. I was kind of salty yesterday at football practice, but I worked my butt off."
Apparently, the move came down Monday but wasn't official until Tuesday because Warrick said Dugans wasn't at Monday's practice, and some of the guys said he popped off a bit in the locker room.
Call it verbal driving of the golf ball.
He was venting.
"I've been playing football with him since '95 and here we are in '03. I saw him every day," Warrick said. "He didn't practice yesterday. I didn't see him at all."
There isn't much Lewis hasn't seen in the NFL. He understood how Warrick felt and understood the venting.
"They're buddies. It's hard. He's venting," Lewis said. "It's a difficult thing, but you know what they say about one door opening and one door closing. Sometimes it's best for everyone."
Warrick said Lewis talked to him, and told him it was a business. Lewis has been conducting that since he arrived in January. Dugans and JoJuan Armour are the 15th and 16 players on last year's Opening Day roster to leave via a release or free agency, and the eighth and ninth players Lewis has cut.
Warrick said he already knew it was business, but now he really knows. By the time he finished walking off the field, he sounded an awful lot like his coach.
"You know it's something that you don't really want to see happen, but you know it's going to happen," Warrick said. "You just don't know who it is, and it just so happened to be Ron. . .Maybe he goes somewhere else and (is) successful.
"We just have to move forward. Just go win some ballgames. That's what it's all about."