Sonny Fulks
Sonny Fulks
Managing Editor

Sonny Fulks is a graduate of Ohio State University where he pitched four varsity seasons for the Buckeyes from 1971 through 1974. He furthered his baseball experience as a minor league umpire for seven seasons, working for the Florida State League (A), the Southern League (AA), and the American Association (AAA). He has written for numerous websites, and for the past fourteen years has served as columnist and photo editor for The Gettysburg Magazine, published by the University of Nebraska Press, in Lincoln Nebraska. His interests include history, support for amateur baseball, the outdoors, and he has a music degree from Ohio State University.


A question received relative to the Bengals’ meltdown…bad behavior on a pair of players at the end of the game, and how would presidential candidate Donald Trump respond if we were walking in the shoes of the commissioner, Roger Goodell.

Apparently, it touched a few nerves.  That is, the number of emails, texts, conversations, and general comments heard over the manner in which the Bengals lost last Saturday’s playoff game to the Steelers.

It’s been a week now, the game they literally had the game won after going ahead 16-15 with less than two minutes to play, had intercepted a Pittsburgh pass and had the ball deep in Steelers’ territory, and had only to hold on to the ball (or kick a short field goal) to win the game.

Of course, they did none of the above.  They’re the Bengals.  Jeremy Hill fumbled the ball, the Steelers recovered, Rothlesberger came back into the game, Vontaze Burfict took a cheap shot at Antonio Brown (penalty), Pacman Jones lost his mind (penalty), the Steelers kicked a field goal and won.  Turn out the lights, the party’s over.

Or is it?

In the six days since talk radio, the internet, and social media has been on fire with response from disgusted fans, and even unaffected members of an “embarrassed” (?) Cincinnati community that claim that Bengals’ ownership lacks control of the team, having announced no recourse for Burfict’s and Jones’ outrageous behavior, during or after the game.

“We’ve fought for years to get to the level of competing with the Steelers and Ravens within the Division,”  said one caller to one of the weekend shows.  “Now we’re the laughing stock of the Division because the of lack of character, poise, sportsmanship, and professionalism.”

Another added on Facebook, “Guarantee you that Mike Brown sits in his office all winter and does nothing.  Come July, it’s the same ol’ Bengals.”

One more said, simply, “This is it.  I’m done.”

Now, as a rehabilitative gesture the league has levied a three-game suspension on Burfict to start the 2016 season.  That’ll make you Rhinelanders sleep better.

But the most thought-provoking question received at PPM came from loyal reader Dave Parr, from Beavercreek/Centerville/Miamisburg (you know him), who simply asked, “If Donald Trump was the NFL Commissioner would Vontaze Burfict and PacMan Jones ever play another down in the NFL?”  He’s given his blessing to my opining on his point…and it’s a good one.

First, the question of which Donald Trump?  Donald Trump the businessman?  Donald Trump from The Apprentice?  Or Donald Trump the politician?

If the question is Donald Trump the businessman, it begs for a wide range of consideration.  Burfict and Jones are two of the best players on the Bengals’ roster;  they just have behavioral dysfunction issues – anger, in other words.  I have a lot of experience in business and I can tell you that employees that perform consistently generally get a wide berth of patience from management.  I’ve known dozens of sales people over the years who never get to work on time, but are excused because their productivity is twice that of others, while spending half the time actually working.  Donald Trump the businessman got to be successful for his patience in cutting deals and putting up with talented, but dysfunctional, people along the way.  But protecting the brand is important to any business, so using that as the bottom line, Trump the commissioner would probably show Burfict and Jones the door.

If you’re talking about Trump the actor, I think we know the answer based purely on bluster.  “You’re fired!”  Remember, it’s an act.

Sonny_inset0211If you’re talking about Trump, the politician?  Well, I think we all know that politicians never do what they say they’re going to do…or at least what you’d like for them to do.  Of course, we haven’t seen Donald Trump yet as an actual politician, but by very nature politicians have to be compromisers.  And here’s where the ‘Donald’ would hesitate.  If he threw them out (Burfict and Jones) they’re both protected by the players’ union.  There would be appeals.  There’d be continuations, delays, and a process not unlike that of Tom Brady and “deflate-gate”.  Bottom line here, you probably wouldn’t get the true Donald Trump as he’d like to rule on the matter, or at least the one we’ve been led to believe we know.  There’d be compromise, alright, and in the end he’d throw up his hands and move on to something that involves the league making money.

Nothing’s easy – the economy, the border, immigration, entitlements, job creation, a new tax code, and eliminating government waste.  Truth be known, expect to see Burfict and Jones back next July, Trump or no Trump.  Some things never change.

Now, turn out the lights!