Marvin Lewis denies report about leaving Cincinnati Bengals after season

By Brian Hall, The Sports Xchange  |  Dec. 17, 2017 at 8:24 PM
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MINNEAPOLIS -- After a listless performance in Minnesota on Sunday that dropped his Cincinnati Bengals to 5-9, coach Marvin Lewis was left to answer questions about his future with the team.

Lewis denied reports that arose before the game that he is planning to leave the team after this season to pursue opportunities elsewhere.

"It's the same report you guys have been reporting on all season," Lewis said. "It's nothing that's changed since August. I've not ... it's just speculation people keep throwing out there, and it makes ... we're all wasting time talking about it."

Lewis said the report is inaccurate and he hasn't made up his mind on what will happen after the season. Sunday's 34-7 loss to the Vikings and former defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer was Cincinnati's third straight loss.

The 59-year-old Lewis, with 15 years in Cincinnati, is the longest tenured head coach in Bengals history.

Lewis opted to enter 2017 -- as he sometimes did in previous seasons -- on the final year of his contract, but this time he is planning to leave Cincinnati, league sources told ESPN.

The NFL Network reported Lewis and the Bengals mutually agreed to end his coaching run after the 2017 season. Lewis is hoping to potentially move into a front-office job, possibly in Cincinnati or with another NFL team, telling Rapoport that being a general manager is "something I would listen to."

"We're wasting time, that's all," Lewis said after the game. "And it affects people around you, which is unfortunate. I understand that's what drives media, but people just throw things out and everybody has to respond. Everybody wants to be first and they don't care if they're accurate."

Lewis owns the franchise record for coaching wins. He is 123-112-3 in his career at the helm for the Bengals, but the team's 0-7 record in the playoffs under Lewis has provided plenty of scrutiny along the way.

Cincinnati has won the AFC North four times under Lewis.

"I saw that, but I don't know if that's the case," Vikings coach Mike Zimmer, Lewis' former defensive coordinator with the Bengals, said after the game. "He didn't say anything to me about it before or after the game. He came over to see me at the ranch when we're on bye week and he didn't say anything about it then.

"But if it is the case, Marvin is an unbelievable person, great mentor, great, great football coach. I hope that's not the case because the NFL would be losing a great coach."

Lewis said he addressed the reports with his team before the game and told them, "Don't be concerned." Players said they heard the news on social media.

"I don't think Marvin is that messy to say something like that before a game, so I'll give him the benefit of the doubt," defensive end Carlos Dunlap said.

Lewis felt the news coming before the game didn't play a role in the disappointing performance.

Cincinnati was held to 161 offensive yards, its second lowest total of the season, and was 1 for 13 on third downs in the loss.

"I don't think it impacted it at all," said receiver A.J. Green, who had two catches for 30 yards on four targets. "We are all professionals. We have a job to do and that's what we get paid for."

Green contradicted his coach, though, after the game.

"He didn't address it and he didn't need to address it," Green said.

If the reports turn out to be true, it could be jarring to a team that hasn't known anyone but Lewis as coach.

"It will hurt a lot of guys, it will hurt," receiver Brandon LaFell said. "This is the only coach they have ever had, this is the only coach that has been here for 10-plus years. To change, it will hurt. But we have enough guys, we have enough professionals around here that they will know there is a new coach coming in, pick up your jock straps, continue to practice and prove to the next coach that you can play."

With his experience, Lewis likely will be on NFL teams' short lists of candidates after the season when multiple openings usually occur.

Most of the contracts of Bengals assistant coaches are up as the team has declined to give them extensions. Some are unhappy with the way they have been treated financially, sources told ESPN.

Lewis accepted the job on Jan. 14, 2003, when the Bengals were coming off the worst season in franchise history (2-14).

"I have not made any decisions about anything. I've told you how many times?" Lewis told reporters after the game.

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