The Bengals locker room chemistry is so good these days that guys are showing up hurt to charity events.
During the bye week.
We give you Bengals middle linebacker Rey Maualuga, hobbled by a severely sprained ankle, showing up at Thursday night for head coach Marvin Lewis's wildly popular Football 101 at Paul Brown Stadium that drew the annual sellout of about 400 women.
The charismatic Maualuga even drew a crowd on crutches as he tried to keep the pressure off his pink cast, which fit an evening in which the Marvin Lewis Community Fund recognized breast cancer survivor Jocelyn Banks with the Pink Football Award.
"He didn't even get on the field yet. By just showing up in the tunnel he caused chaos," said Lindsay Reisert, the assistant director of Lewis's foundation. "We always like the players to stop by but it's hard because it's always during the bye week. So it was great to have Rey and the other guys. They didn't have to come."
Safety Chris Crocker had a scheduled gig as the celebrity speaker kicking off the event that featured Lewis's staff lecturing and demonstrating the finer points of the game, such as special teams coach Darrin Simmons and kicker Mike Nugent helping the students kick field goals, and not so finer points, such as defensive assistants Paul Guenther and David Lippincott working tackling drills.
Maualuga, along with safety Taylor Mays and linebacker DeQuin Evans, stopped by to say hello, sign autographs and have their picture taken despite it being the event's Freezer Bowl equivalent with temperatures dipping into the windy low 40s.
"Coldest on record," Reisert said. "It's the Freezer Bowl for us."
But the participants warmed up for the live auction that took in $40,000 of the $170,000 the event raised for the fund's educational initiatives as well as Cruisin' for a Cure, the program that offers transportation for needy women seeking mammograms.
At 4-2, the Bengals are hot pink. A basket with a pair of pink cleats signed by Maualuga and wide receiver Jerome Simpson, a helmet signed by quarterback Andy Dalton, a football signed by running back Cedric Benson, and an invite to watch a Friday practice and have lunch with the team went for $2,000.
The 400 rotated through a series of stations. While assistant coaches went over position play in the locker room, defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer and offensive coordinator Jay Gruden were in the team room breaking down two calls each from their playbooks before groups hit the field and ended the night with a game of seven-on-seven.