"I did everything I could to sabotage the relationship," he says, grinning happily. (Jeannie has dropped her gaze into her salad, not quite sure what turn this revelation might take.) "I'd tell her, 'He's a great guy and all, I'm not trying to change your mind, but did he really say that?' "
Jeannie smiles wanly. Cris laughs.
They are occupying choice seats in the dining room of The Precinct, a police station converted into a restaurant that many of the Bengals favor. Cris frequents the place, he says, because the food is good, there's an active dance floor upstairs, and the owners are "terrific guys" who could "use the pub." One of the owners prepares a special hors d'oeuvre for Collinsworth's party.
A smartly dressed black man drops by. He greets Collinsworth warmly and they chat. The little finger of the man's left hand is in a splint. When he leaves, Collinsworth identifies him as Isaac Curtis, long the ace of the Bengal receivers and the man Cris himself has—for this year at least—overshadowed.
"His finger's broken. He's been playing with it that way," says Cris, awed. "He's unbelievable, that guy. He puts moves on you that leave you spinning. We had a one-on-one drill in camp, when the veterans usually don't go all out, and Isaac decided to go full speed. You've never heard so many oohs and ahs."
You learning a lot from him, are you?
"All the time. He gave me a great tip on shaking a defensive back. When the guy's stride for stride with you, he said, just turn and look him in the face and he'll back off. So I tried it, and it worked. Well, shoot. He didn't have to tell me that. But that's the kind of class guy he is. This team is loaded with class guys."
Jimbo asks if Cris is still driving the classy 1977 Mercury Bobcat he had at Florida, the one that looked like a moving accident.
"[The Bengals] kidded me about that all the time. They said, 'Hey, man, you're in the big time. You can't be seen in a heap like that.' I told 'em, 'Listen, I can't afford a new car right now because I'm still making payments on my yacht.' That quieted 'em. Finally, I bought myself a Porsche 924, brand new. I don't think I got the hang of it yet, though. It might be too much car for an ol' country boy."
What's this old country stuff, asks the sparrow. The east coast of Florida isn't country.