The two things Marvin Lewis brought to Cincinnati when the Bengals hired him seven years ago as head coach is a thorough knowledge of the inner workings of the NFL as well as a tireless commitment to the community.
And he has turned this weekend of the annual Marvin Lewis Community Fund's Golf Classic into a Cincinnati May staple. Anchored by The VIP Pre-Party Saturday night at Cadillac Ranch in downtown Cincinnati and highlighted by Sunday's 14-hole celebfest at Shaker Run Golf Course in Lebanon, Ohio, the tourney is the keynote fundraiser for a sprawling non-profit that has deployed more than $5 million into the community since Lewis arrived.
There are six reasons why we think this is one of the best weekends of the year. And why we love to keep writing about it. Those are the six $20,000 college scholarships Lewis is awarding Sunday afternoon as his juggernaut continues to introduce us to remarkable high school students with amazing stories.
And even though Lewis' future in Cincinnati is in doubt as he heads into the last year of his contract, it's nice to know MLCF is sticking around whether he'll be coaching the Bengals or not.
"The fund will continue in Cincinnati even if I'm not here," Lewis said Thursday, pointing out that he just came back from Giants head coach Tom Coughlin's charity tourney in Jacksonville, where he coached for eight seasons.
"But I don't worry about that."
He says his uncertain status hasn't affected the ability to raise funds from sponsors that love stability.
"Our board and our sponsors are 100 percent committed," he said. "It's not me. It's what we're doing. I think that's the important thing."
Lewis says he's gratified how main sponsors like Cincinnati Bell, PNC-National City Bank, and Baker Concrete have held on through the recession. And he's thankful how much the Bengals have donated, starting with Paul Brown Stadium as site of many of the events.
Lewis says he and Bengals president Mike Brown talk every day about the club and "I imagine we will" talk contract again before the team goes to training camp in late July. On Thursday, Lewis reiterated that he's excited what the Bengals have done in the offseason and praised Brown for how they went about acquiring new talent.
"What Mike has allowed us to do is, again, a credit to him," Lewis said. "He wants to win very badly. We see that all the time."
Here's another reason to love this Weekend at Marvin's:
Leave it to Lewis. When he began to notice donations piling up that were coming into MLCF in memory of the late Vikki Zimmer, he approached her husband about establishing a college scholarship in her name. The Zimmers and their two daughters had attended the last two VIP parties, so Mike Zimmer, his defensive coordinator, realized the compassion of Lewis and Cincinnati.
"Number one, Marvin does so much for other people and everything he does outside of football is just tremendous," Zimmer said. "And I've been very fortunate that there seem to be a lot of caring people here that want to go out of their way to help."
And, as Sam Wyche once said, there is golf to be played.
Stay tuned for a look at some of the scholarship winners and a report from a Sunday foursome.