Casey is no fan of the Bengals
By Joe Bendel
Wednesday, January 4, 2006
Spring training does not open until February for the Pirates, but newly acquired first baseman Sean Casey is already taking his swings.
The Upper St. Clair native directed most of them at the Cincinnati Bengals, a team he refused to embrace during his eight seasons with the Reds.
"I never became a Bengals fan," he said Tuesday, five days before the Bengals play host to the Steelers in a first-round AFC playoff game at Paul Brown Stadium. "I have Steelers blood in me, always have. There's no doubt where my heart is with this game."
Casey can be forgiven for not falling head over spikes for a Cincinnati team that went 42-86 while he was there. The Bengals haven't been to the playoffs since 1990 and were known as the Bungles before coach Marvin Lewis took over in 2003.
They finished this season with an 11-5 record and as the AFC North Division champions, due in large part to a 38-31 victory over the Steelers in Week 12 at Heinz Field. The Steelers won an earlier meeting with the Bengals, 27-13, in Week 6 at Paul Brown Stadium.
Casey gives the Steelers a slight edge in Sunday's game because they've won four in a row, while the Bengals are riding a two-game losing streak, during which they've allowed a combined 74 points.
"(The Steelers) have been playing well; the Bengals haven't," Casey said. "I would think it's as simple as that, but probably not. I expect it to be a tough game--like, 24-21, Steelers, with Jeff Reed winning it at the end.
And I expect The Bus (Jerome Bettis) to have a big game - a big game."
It is not surprising that Casey is a Bettis fan, considering the two have had similar impacts on the cities in which they've played. Casey was known as the "Mayor" in the Queen City for his infectious personality and tireless work with charities.
Meantime, Bettis is a local legend, evidenced by the reception he got last Sunday in what likely was his final game at Heinz Field.
No word yet if Bettis will follow Casey's lead and take out a full-page ad in the local newspapers to thank his fans for years of support if, in fact, he has played his final game in Pittsburgh.
Casey, 31, had offers to watch Bettis and the Steelers play in person, but he's opted to take it in from his home in Jupiter, Fla.
"I know a couple of people who could get me tickets, but I'm not going up for the game," said Casey, who was acquired by the Pirates last month in a trade that sent left-handed pitcher Dave Williams to the Reds. "I'll sit down here in the sun and enjoy the Steelers' win on my TV."