Monday, October 21, 2002

Bengals find life after football


Former players happy, successful

By John Johnston
The Cincinnati Enquirer

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Ickey Woods, rookie sensation of the 1988 Super Bowl Bengals, owns a flooring store.
(Glenn Hartong photo)
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        If you're a Cincinnati Bengal, maybe now is the time to consider another line of work.

        It can't be fun getting trounced on the gridiron week after week. It must be miserable hearing the stinging rebukes of fans and talk show callers, not to mention reading the wrathful comments of sports writers. It has to be painful knowing you play for the NFL's only winless team, now 0-6 after last week's loss to Pittsburgh. All of which is exacerbated by the fact that the franchise hasn't had a winning season since the Dow Jones Industrial Average ended the year at 2633 and L.A. Law won the Emmy for best drama. (Uh, that was 1990.)

        Is it worth it?

        (Reality check: The average NFL player salary is $1.12 million.)

        OK, so it's worth it.

        And yet, if you're a Bengal, maybe you can't help but wonder what will happen when your playing days end. So we checked with some former players who chose to stay in town. It turns out there is life after football.

        Ickey Woods, a Bengals running back from 1988-91, lives in Carthage. He's married with six children, ages 19, 16, 13, 10, 8 and 6.

        Age: (A chuckle.) “Let's say mid-30s. I ain't gonna give my exact age.”

        Noteworthy: Made famous the Ickey Shuffle, a post-touchdown celebratory dance.

        Appeared most recently in: A Cincinnati Bell television commercial, doing the Ickey Shuffle with Bell president Jack Cassidy.

        Post-Bengal career: Various sales jobs, including selling home security systems and meat.

        Currently: Owner, Quality Floors by Ickey Woods in Sharonville.

        Miss most about playing: “The camaraderie, the togetherness, the unity.”

        Miss least: “Getting up in the morning and working out.”

        Last Bengals game attended: “I've got an Ickey Woods Shuffle Zone in the (stadium's) East Club level, so I'm there every home game.”

        People would be surprised to know that: “Ickey's doing well. He's handling his business and he's doing what he needs to do to keep food on the table and clothes on the baby's back.”

        Joe Walter, 39, of Florence, is married with children ages 11, 11 and 2. He was a Bengals offensive lineman from 1985 to 1997.

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Joe Walter and son Jake, 2, sit at home in Florence, where Walter operates his media management company.
(Ernest Coleman photo)
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        Post-Bengal career: Worked with former teammate Bruce Kozerski in construction.

        Currently: Owner of Joe Walter Media Management, which buys media advertising such as radio, TV, newspaper and direct mail.

        Favorite Bengals memory: “The Super Bowl year (1988). Such a great team, a classic team. A heck of a ride for myself and the team. That answer was pretty corny, wasn't it?”

        Miss most about playing: “The action on Sundays.”

        Miss least: “The odor at Spinney Field.” (The team's former practice site in Lower Price Hill.)

        Bengals memorabilia in my home: “Bengal tiger paintings given to us by (artist) John Ruthven. Super Bowl pictures, jerseys, helmets. I probably shouldn't say helmets. I'll get a call from Mike Brown, "You owe us for those helmets!' ”

        Glenn Bujnoch, 48, of Bridgetown, is married with children ages 25, 20, 17, 11. He was a Bengals offensive guard from 1977-83.

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Glenn Bujnoch owns Pudgie's Famous Chicken in Bridgetown.
(Glenn Hartong photo)
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        Post-Bengals career: Worked in the travel business, selling to commercial accounts, a job he also held during his playing days.

        Currently: Owner for nine years of Pudgie's Famous Chicken in Bridgetown (soon to be renamed Booj's Skinless Chicken).

        Miss most about playing days: “You never had to grow up. Everything's taken care of for you.”

        Miss least: “Training camp.”

        Funniest Bengals moment: “We put a little box turtle in (defensive tackle) Gary Burley's laundry bag, and he had no idea it was in there until it started crawling along the floor.”

        Last Bengals game attended: Not sure. “I haven't been to a game in the new stadium yet, except to watch Elder (High).”

        Advice to current squad: “There are some very, very tough individuals playing their hearts out. To them, you gotta keep doing what you can do. To the (others), later in life it'll come back and get you.”

        Jim Corbett, 47, of Lakeside Park, was a Bengals tight end from 1977-80. He's married and has four children, ages 23, 21, 17 and 15.

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Jim Corbett stands in his office at the J.B. Corbett Agency, an investment and insurance planning company, in Florence.
(Gary Landers photo)
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        Post-Bengal career: Built four Nautilus fitness centers; worked for Prudential Insurance.

        Currently: Since 1990 has owned J.B. Corbett Agency, a financial planning company.

        Favorite Bengals memory: “I was a rookie. We played the Cleveland Browns. It was a close game, and I dropped a pass. After the game I was walking out of the locker room and Paul Brown's car was coming at me, like it was going to run into me. He slowly rolled down the window and said: "People don't make it long in the league dropping passes.' About six weeks later we played Miami, same situation, but I caught the pass, and we ended up winning the game. The same car approached when I was coming out. He rolled down the window and said, "Thanks.' ”

        Question asked most often by Bengals fans: “What's wrong with the Bengals? And I tell them the same thing I've been telling them for a long time: I have no idea.”

        People would be surprised to know that: “I'm not a huge sports fan. I don't watch football on TV. My neighbors are avid Bengals fans and when the Bengals lose, they knock on my door. I'm out raking leaves and didn't know they lost. They want to talk. I'm going, "Tell me what happened.' I feel like their analyst.”

        Brian Blados, 40, of West Chester, is married with children ages 6 and 11. He was a Bengals offensive lineman from 1984-91.

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Brian Blados sells food to restaurants for U.S. Foodservice.
(Gary Landers photo)
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        Post-Bengals career: Ran a landscaping business.

        Currently: Sells food to restaurants and nursing facilities for U.S. Foodservice.

        Funniest Bengals moment: (He has a hard time choosing from several.) “At training camp, Jerry Boyarsky, a nose guard, stuck his head in an ice bucket. We timed it for a minute.”

        Miss most about playing days: “The guys. Everybody wanted everybody to succeed. In the real world, everybody's trying to be No. 1, which I can appreciate. But we wanted the team to be No. 1.”

        Bengals memorabilia in my home: “I have tigers all over the place. They're in every room.”

        Post-Bengals highlight: “The opportunity to be with family and have my family in town, and to have my health.”

        Favorite current Bengals: “Being from North Carolina, I really like Brian Simmons. And I like Rich Braham, because he wears my number (74).”

        Louis Breeden, 48, of Loveland, is single. (“Put that in bold letters.”) He has two children, 25 and 23, and a 4-year-old grandson. He was a cornerback for the Bengals from 1977-87.

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Louis Breeden markets custom logo apparel in Blue Ash.
(Glenn Hartong photo)
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        Post-Bengals career: TV and radio work for Channel 9 sports, Bengals radio broadcasts, Enquirer Sports Prep Show; University of Louisville broadcasts.

        Currently: Owns Louis Breeden Promotions, an advertising specialty company.

        Miss most about playing days: “Monday. Monday was payday. No matter how well I played or otherwise stunk up the place, the redeeming thing was I got paid on Monday.”

        Miss least: “Monday, the day you felt the most pain from a ballgame.”

        Bengals memorabilia in my home: “I don't have a lot. A jacket we used to wear at practice, and a pair of sweatpants. And I had an artist take a picture of my locker. From that, I have a drawing she did.”

        Advice to current squad: “You can't worry too much about what everybody else is doing, but you can control how you approach the game. It's the mental preparation, I think, that's causing them a lot of problems.”

        Neal Craig, 54, of Hyde Park, was a Bengals strong safety from 1971-73.

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Neal Craig in his home in Forest Park.
(Michael E. Keating photo)
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        Post-Bengals career: Sales and marketing jobs at Heidelberg Distributing Co. and ConAgra.

        Currently: District business manager, Letica Corp., a plastic container manufacturer.

        Favorite Bengals memory: “In the 1973 playoffs, I intercepted a Bob Griese pass and ran 60 yards for a touchdown. Loved it.”

        Post-Bengals highlight: “Watching my son (Cornell Craig) become an All-America at Southern Illinois University as a wide receiver in 2000.”

        Bengals memorabilia in my home: “Absolutely nothing. Once that's over with, it's over. Let me take that back. I do have one action photo given to me years ago. And a Bengals football card.”

        Favorite current Bengal: “Corey Dillon. He should have been a defensive back. He probably could have made it with the old Bengals (laughs).”

        Advice to the current squad: “Remember tenacity.”

        Job suggestions for current Bengals:
        When they're no longer Bengals, what will they do? The Tempo Subcommittee on Jettisoning Our Bengal Slackers (JOBS) suggests these possibilities:

        Quarterback Jon Kitna: Pastry chef. Turnovers are his specialty.

        Defensive end Reinard Wilson: Grocery bagger. Finally able to get some sacks.

        The offensive and defensive lines: Cincinnati City Council members. Just like on game days, they can throw their weight around without accomplishing much.

        Quarterback Akili Smith: CIA agent. Let him run the quarterback sneak.

        Coach Dick LeBeau: Tire repairman. He's no stranger to blowouts.

                E-mail jjohnston@enquirer.com



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