Inside the Bungles' draft room
By Eric Immerman
Special to Page 2

As the 2003 NFL Draft approaches, the Cincinnati Bengals are going to great lengths to make sure they don't screw up the No. 1 overall pick -- like they did in 1994 and again in 1995.

Page 2 has learned that Bengals officials are meeting around the clock to discuss draft strategy, and we've obtained a highly confidential transcript of one such meeting:


In attendance at 4/23/03 meeting, 1 p.m.

  • Marvin Lewis, head coach
  • Mike Brown, owner
  • Bob Bratkowski, offensive coordinator
  • Leslie Frazier, defensive coordinator


    MIKE: If you ask me, the looting and pillaging of Iraq's museums is tantamount to a cultural catastrophe. I mean, some of these historical artifacts date back as far as our last playoff appearance!

    MARVIN: Hey, I don't want to seem insensitive, but can we concentrate on football? There are only 72 hours until the draft, and we have more holes than a Bruce Willis movie.

    Carson Palmer
    Carson Palmer can only hope the Bengals' "expert scouts" don't target him.
    LESLIE: Yeah, I agree. I was looking at our roster, and we have a bunch of nobodies. Hell, I saw more stars the last time I accidentally hit myself in the ol' breadbasket.

    BOB: Well, I know it's a risky proposition, but I think we should trade down. I've been working the phones, and I think I can engineer a trade with New Orleans that would send our No. 1 pick to the Saints for their No. 18 and No. 54.

    MARVIN: Are you insane?!?!

    BOB: No, hear me out. There are 55 wanted prospects. If we keep the No. 1 pick, we're going to be tempted to go after the highest-ranking guy on everyone's board, Saddam Hussein. And let's be honest, the chances of him passing the team physical right now are extremely slim. Not to mention he has had some off-the-field problems that could become a huge PR nightmare. On the other hand, we could use the 54th pick on Humam Abd Al-Khaliq Abd Al-Ghafur, who can help us right away on special teams. And Muhammad Hamza al-Zubaydi-who we've coveted all along-will fall into our laps at No. 18.

    MARVIN: I'm sorry, what the hell are we going to do with Muhammad Hamza al-Zubaydi?

    LESLIE: Um, hello, we were 22nd against the run last year and this guy practically single-handedly suppressed the Shiite Muslim uprising following the 1991 Persian Gulf War. He's a defensive stalwart! A genuine run-stopper. Let's put it in perspective: Big Daddy Wilkinson was our No. 1 pick in 1994, and he couldn't tackle one fullback, let alone an entire people.

    MIKE: Oh man, Big Daddy sure was a major disappointment. It's too bad because he had such tremendous upside.

    BOB: Yeah, but it was his tremendous backside that was the problem. I'm telling you, the guy had more pounds strapped to his butt than Nate Newton at the Tijuana border.

    MARVIN: Gentlemen, let's focus. Seeing how none of you appear to have any legitimate personnel analysis, can someone at least tell me who Mel Kiper Jr. has atop his draft board?

    LESLIE: I believe USC quarterback Carson Palmer. Hey, speaking of Mel Kiper, is it true that immediately following the draft he is disassembled and placed into a box somewhere in Secaucus, N.J., until the following year?

    BOB: Yeah, I heard that, too.

    MARVIN: I don't know. Can someone please just read me Palmer's scouting report.

    MIKE: Let's see, he has great mechanics ... prototypical size ... surprising mobility ... and excellent arm strength.

    MIKE: Wow, he reminds me a little too much of our 1992 colossal bust of a draft pick, David Klingler, or as he was affectionately known around here, "The Other White Meat." All that potential and a mere 33 games and 16 touchdowns. Every time I think of that draft I bawl like Dick Vermeil during a Lifetime original movie.

    MARVIN: Was he really that big of a bomb?

    Dan Wilkinson
    The Big Daddy was another big dud in Cincy.
    MIKE: Put it this way, it's now a federal offense to scream "Klingler" aboard an aircraft.

    MARVIN: Man, I had no idea how pathetic this team's draft history was. There's a lot of pressure to make a good selection, now. Seriously, we need a hit worse than Nick Nolte! All right, let's see, what about an infusion of youth at offensive line? Some of the guys we've got now were playing when the monkeys first arrived on the scene.

    LESLIE: Hey, hey we're The Monkees...

    MARVIN: No, not the musical group, the primates! Or how about running back? Willis McGahee just had a phenomenal workout. Maybe he's worth the risk if he falls to us in the second round.

    BOB: I've got three words for you, Marvin: Ki-Jana Carter.

    MIKE: Now that selection was simply a debacle from Day One. I suppose it was a bad omen when Ki-Jana's bobblehead doll prototype came back from the manufacturer complete with glazed, vacant eyes and a torn ACL.

    MARVIN: He was a No. 1 pick and such a spectacular back in college, though. I'm sure you at least got some value for him on the open market.

    MIKE: Oh yeah. Absolutely. If I recall correctly, I think we got a new tackling dummy and Brian Bosworth's Direct-to-Video Box Set ... and believe you me, Brian Bosworth is to acting what Mariah Carey is to ... acting.

    MARVIN: So let me get this straight: Between 1992 and 1995 you had two No. 1 overall draft picks and ended up with David Klingler, Dan Wilkinson, and Ki-Jana Carter, all of whom were flameouts of biblical proportions. It begs the question, what kind of scouting and talent evaluation system were you employing?

    MIKE: Well, between 1992 and 1996, Dave Shula instituted and reigned over what he liked to call the "Plinko" approach to drafting.

    MARVIN: The "Plinko" approach? As in "The Price Is Right" game?

    MIKE: Yeah, each year we'd make our very own "Plinko" board, writing the names of potential draftees at the bottom. And then we'd select a veteran player to drop the "Plinko" chip from the top and watch helplessly as it caromed off the pegs until it reached its destination ... that year's lucky collegian.

    MARVIN: That's disturbing.

    MIKE: Admittedly, it was a bit antiquated. Fortunately, Bruce Coslet entered the picture in 1996 with his computer acumen and revolutionized the way we approached the draft.

    MARVIN: Thank God.

    MIKE: Yeah, to this day we utilize his sophisticated "Press Your Luck" system.

    MARVIN: You're kidding, right? "Press Your Luck," the game show?

    Ki-Jana Carter
    At last count, Ki-Jana had 482 career-ending injuries with the Bengals.
    MIKE: Yeah, we place the names of potential draftees along a colorful, high-tech board, close our eyes, push down on our buzzer, and whomever it lands on, that's our guy.

    MARVIN: And how's that working out?

    MIKE: Well, we got Akili Smith and Peter Warrick, so...

    MARVIN: Whammy's across the board, huh?

    MIKE: Yeah.

    MARVIN: OK, all in favor of drafting the quasi-lesbian pop duo t.A.T.u. say "aye."

    BOB: Aye.

    LESLIE: Aye.

    MIKE: Aye.

    MARVIN: Aye.

  • Eric Immerman is a contributing comedy writer to ESPN The Magazine and "The Late Late Show with Craig Kilborn." His material also has been featured on He can be reached at



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