Arizona quarterback would like to forget Bengal years

Updated: October 31, 2003, 10:17 AM ET
ESPN

TEMPE, Ariz. -- Arizona quarterback Jeff Blake tries not to think about his six seasons with the Cincinnati Bengals.

"It was bad, man," Blake said after Thursday's practice. "But it's over with and done for me. I don't ever have to go back there again."

When the Cardinals face Cincinnati on Sunday, it will be the first time Blake has placed the Bengals since he left them following the 1999 season. He is pleased to see what new coach Marvin Lewis has done with the team, which has won three of four and is 3-4 overall.

"Coach Lewis has done a good job there, and hopefully they'll continue to let him do the things he's doing to help the organization turn around," Blake said, "because when I was there, that wasn't going to happen. It's finally giving those guys an opportunity to go out and win some football games."

Blake was chosen in the sixth round by the New York Jets out of East Carolina in 1992 and was waived after two seasons. The Bengals signed him, and he became the starter halfway through the 1994 campaign.

His biggest statistical seasons in 11 years as a pro came with Cincinnati. He was chosen for the Pro Bowl in 1995 when he threw for 3,822 yards and 28 touchdowns. In 1996, he threw for 3,624 yards and 24 scores.

But the franchise made it difficult to succeed because of its penny-pinching ways, Blake said, especially on the little things that other teams do without question.

"We didn't have nothin', period," he said. "No per diem, no food, no breakfast. Nothin'."

Unlike every other NFL franchise, the Bengals didn't stay in a hotel together the Saturday night before a home game.

In such a situation, it was every man for himself, Blake said.

"You just try to do your own thing," he said, "try to make yourself better, and hopefully a team will like you good enough that they trade for your."

That didn't happen. Blake had to wait for his contract to expire, then signed with New Orleans as a free agent in 2000. After two seasons with the Saints and one with Baltimore, he landed in Arizona.

The Cardinals' history is as bleak as that of the Bengals, maybe worse. But the working conditions are much better, Blake said.

"It's nice here. It's real nice," he said. "I've seen the worst, so I ain't complaining at all."

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