Sports Today: Cincinnati Bengals move on as protest fallout continues

The Cincinnati Bengals got back to work Monday, wrapping up talk of the loss in Green Bay and looking ahead to the Cleveland Browns.

There wasn't much substance in coach Marvin Lewis' remarks, although I'm not sure I blame him for keeping it bland.

I understood long ago that’s the way it’s generally going to be, but also in this case I think his overarching message was more than coach-speak.

"Throughout the game. And we were there. We have to finish. We have to do a better job of those things. And we have to do a better job of (covering) the receivers — we can't have the fouls that are being called. They seem to be pretty grey (not black and white), but we have to make sure they are not being called all the time. We're not getting any breaks where they're being (called) the other way. That's part of it. We have to make breaks (for ourselves). We have to make them all the time, and for 60 minutes."

For the most part, I would say the key to getting better really is just taking advantage of opportunities.

Making the right read, delivering accurate passes, avoiding penalties, not slipping on third down, etc.

So, does that make you more or less optimistic as a fan?…

The controversy over the weekend also spilled into Monday as safety George Iloka responded to President Donald Trump calling those who made a demonstration during the anthem (prior to this weekend) SOBs by saying the POTUS is a "clown."

I really don’t want to beat the anthem protest topic into the ground, but I think this is something worth pointing out again: Most of the controversy has clearly been about how Colin Kaepernick and those who came after him chose to get attention for their beliefs.

He also used inflammatory rhetoric that’s going to turn off a lot of people, and remaining largely silent since has let various people on both sides with their own agendas fill the vacuum.

That has pretty much been a disaster for public discourse, though the fire was starting to go out before the President poured gasoline on it.

The point I was trying to make yesterday was this: I hope the flare up over the weekend let everyone prove their point to Trump about their right to protest, which never should have been a debate anyway, and now it's time to move on to the actual topics at hand.

RELATED: Are we ready to move forward after weekend of protests?

It’s a shame when this started the people at the front weren’t LeBron James and Malcolm Jenkins.

Jenkins hit multiple television shows to reiterate his points about reforms he would like to see in the criminal justice system.

James made good points about the problems with someone in the President's position making divisive comments, although the Akron native undercut his message by insulting Trump voters on the same day.

(James also said he would sign Kaepernick immediately if he had a football team, which is pretty funny considering how much his influence seems to have screwed up his teams’ futures over the years.)

RELATED: LeBron James talks Trump on Cavaliers media day

For his part, Trump tweeted the way the Dallas Cowboys handled the pregame Monday night a step forward, and I agree.

The team showed solidarity, something that became important after Trump insulted NFL players, but stood for the anthem, something that is obviously important to fans.

»RELATED: Marvin Lewis says Bengals weren’t going to let divisive words divide team

To be clear, I’m not blaming James and Jenkins for being beaten to the punch by Kaepernick, just saying their messages are more thoughtful and for lack of a better term palatable, which matters whether you want it to or not.

Ignoring that last part and spending more time criticizing the critics has been one of the major failings of the media coverage of all this.

Unfortunately, I’m sure that will continue.

If you want proof, just look at the total cluster that was what the Steelers did.

They were praised by the president's critics for not leaving the locker room, one player (Alejandro Villanueva) became a hero to others when he stepped out of the tunnel anyway and then caused a whole new controversy when he said he was sorry he made the team look bad by doing so.

Ben Roethlisberger also expressed regret over the way everything went down.

Of course, coach Mike Tomlin wanted to keep the team in the locker room specifically to avoid controversy.


Maybe that’s not possible anymore.