Chris Henry, Odell, Frostee Rucker, etc. are not the first character risks the Bengals have taken. The Bengals have been taking huge character risks in the draft for quite some time now. Obviously Mike Brown loves the draft value of a guy who’s slipped a round or four because of their giant red character flags. Tremain Mack was the epitome of this. Mike must have loved him some T-Mack because how else can a quote like this be explained.
Tremain's a very likable guy," said Mike Brown, Bengals owner/general manager. "But to read the media accounts a year ago, you would think he and John Dillinger were cellmates. (What??? John Dillinger??? Who the hell is that??? Ohhhh, a famous bank robber from the Great Depression, what a hip reference for the end of the 20th century. Now if Mike had said T-Mack would have been a great getaway driver then I would have loved it)
Tremain Mack was drafted out of the U by the Bengals in the 4th round of the 1997 NFL draft (Another paragon of morals values Corey Dillon was also taken by the Bengals in this draft). This Hurricane was rated as a first round talent at the time but somehow T-Mack slipped to the 111th pick of the draft. While the rest of the NFL seemingly took him off their draft boards the Bengals apparently saw a talent that just couldn’t be ignored. Now you might be wondering why the rest of the NFL didn’t want to draft T-Mack. After all he was 1st team All Big East and a special teams dynamo at Miami. Well I’m going to go out on a limb and say the answer probably had something to do with T-Mack’s SIX alcoholic related arrests in his 4 years as a Hurricane and that even BUTCH DAVIS suspended him because of a DUI. Now in all fairness to the Bengals they apparently claimed they didn’t know the severity of T-Mack’s problems. I guess the Bengals three scouts not related to the Brown family missed that little nugget.
But just for now I’m going to ignore all the Bengals idiocy and mismanagement because quite simply T-Mack was the best Bengals kick returner of my lifetime. His best season was 1999 when T-Mack led the AFC in kick returning average and set a Bengal club-record averaging 27.1 yards per return. This season was made even more amazing because T-Mack didn’t play in the first four games of the season after shockingly being suspended by Commissioner Tagliabue after another DUI arrest. T-Mack’s off-season conditioning program consisted of spending his summer locked up in the Hamilton County Jail (Jamal Lewis has nothing on T-Mack). So when he came out for the 5th game of the 1999 season he came out blazing. Personally I loved Tremain Mack because on every kick off (and there were lots of kicks to return in 1999 as the Bengals started 1-10 on their way to another 4-12 season while they closed Riverfront Stadium in style) I imagined special teams coach Al Roberts telling him to just pretend like he was running from the law. It must have worked because T-Mack ran so well from the law in 1999 that he was chosen as the AFC’s kick returner in the Pro-Bowl. From county jail to Honolulu all in span of one season. Simply amazing!!!
Sadly as you may have heard T-Mack didn’t have a happy ending with the Bengals. T-Mack could only run from the law for so long. He continued to rack up DUI’s at a record pace including one that would have made Bob Huggins proud when the Cincinnati police arrested Mack after finding him sleeping behind the wheel of a car at 3:45 a.m. Surprisingly the cops got suspicious after Mack's vehicle had been parked in the middle of a Clifton intersection for at least an hour. This Huggins style arrest came two years after WLWT-TV (Channel 5) caught Mack on tape driving to and from Paul Brown Stadium with a suspended license, from the two DUI charges he’d already picked up in Hamilton County. That was great piece of Cheaters style investigative journalism, but the Bengals front office was not pleased with the report referring to the report as a sting operation (more importantly where was channel 5 when we needed them to follow Chris Henry around? you know you would have watched it). After some more jail time T-Mack was done with the NFL but on the Brightside seems to have cleaned up his life eventually suiting up for the Arena Football San Jose SaberCats.
But I’ll always remember T-Mack as a bald headed demon who ran like the he heard police sirens blaring behind him. For T-Mack was running from the law and into the hearts of Bengal fans everywhere. Tremain Mack a Bengal Hero.
T-Mack is the second in what hopes to be a long series of Bengal Hero profiles. (If you missed part one you can read all about Jeff Query’s glorious 1993 season right here.)
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