It was a tumultuous year for Thomas Howard and the Cincinnati Bengals. But his off-field interests keep him sane.
A playoff contender for a good portion of the year in a shaky AFC, a 9-7 final record was good enough to earn the once lowly Bengals a Wild Card post season game against the Houston Texans. The Bengals went down 31-10. But, Howard sees good reason for optimism in the future. The outside linebacker believes in the Bengals young quarterback, Andy Dalton, and the core of players around him.
During the off-season, Howard is looking forward to working with his charity foundation. Before embarking on both, he connected with Crave Online to talk off-season life in and away from football.
CraveOnline: The Cincinnati Bengals were the joke of the league for a while. Even last year, you were 4-12 and almost lost your head coach’s job. How did it turn around into a playoff run for the Bengals this year?
Thomas Howard: I think it was a combination of things. I enjoyed being in the locker room this year. And I think it helps that we got younger this year. There aren’t many guys over 30 on our club, and they’re all focused. They were playing better. We’ve always had a good coaching staff, and that really came together on the field this year.
It was tough losing Ocho-Cinco (Chad Johnson) and (former quarterback) Carson Palmer, but it became clear that our collective fate was in our hands.
CraveOnline: You said how young your team was this year. Did that make you one of the veteran leaders on the club?
Thomas Howard: I try to lead by example, but I’ll offer advice when I’m asked by any of the guys. I like to point out to the younger guys that they’re never forced to live the stereotyped big, overpaid life of the NFL player. I urge them to think what they’re going to do after football.
CraveOnline: What are your loves in your life away from football?
Thomas Howard: I like giving time to The Thomas Howard Foundation. We look to develop you in our communities through both academics and athletics. My mother was an educator, and she taught me the value of getting out in the community and to interact with people in favor of education.
CraveOnline: You advise the younger players to think about life after football. What are you looking forward to when the playing days are over?
Thomas Howard: I’d like to travel. I’m also thinking about going back to school. I’ve also thought about becoming an athletic director in the future or a football coach.
CraveOnline: You also like to Twitter and stay connect to your fans. What’s your handle there?
Thomas Howard: I’m @Mr53, and I welcome everyone who wants to follow me to learn more about the work we’re doing through the foundation.
Photo credit - AP