The Bengals just had to have Akili Smith.

Once upon a time, the Cincinnati Bengals received a trade offer from the New Orleans Saints so lucrative it could’ve turned the whole franchise around. Instead, the Bengals turned it down to draft quarterback Akili Smith.

Smith made just 17 career starts in four seasons in Cincinnati, throwing five touchdowns and 13 interceptions.

I want to thank the Lord for the first downs that he has been allowing me to achieve. The touchdown is going to come in his timing, but today was a first down. I was finally able to make it to practice with my teammates. It’s great to be back for practices and meetings. Just to be able to feel a part of it means the world. So I’m working harder than I ever have to get back. Ive been making strides over the past month and continue to make progress. Taking it day-by-day, but I’m far from done. The Lord has not finished his work yet. I want to say thank you to the fans and Steelers Nation for the prayers. If it wasn’t for my family, friends and your prayers I wouldn’t be were I am now. They have lifted me and my family through this journey and I ask for you to continue praying for me, as I continue to work daily on improving my health.

Despite that history, they managed just three first half points against New York, fulfilling Rex Ryan’s deal with the devil and allowing Mark Sanchez to make one of two career starts in the AFC Championship Game. Meanwhile, the Packers rallied from their Wild Card start, beat a hobbled Jay Cutler in the NFC title game, and dispatched the Steelers to win their fourth Super Bowl in franchise history. Rodgers won MVP honors that game after throwing for 304 yards and three touchdowns.

Green Bay was in excellent shape to capitalize on its 2010 championship thanks to Rodgers, who leveled up to command the league’s top offense and earn his first NFL MVP award. A 13-3 Patriots team was waiting on the other side, beckoning Rodgers to challenge their status as the NFL’s preeminent dynasty. It was the perfect cauldron to forge a legendary rivalry.

And then the Packers got absolutely torched by Hakeem Nicks (seven catches, 165 yards, two touchdowns) and once again saw their postseason hopes smashed against the rocks after falling for Tom Coughlin’s don’t worry about the Giants, we’re not actually very good siren song. Rodgers needed 46 passes to throw for just 264 yards as Eli Manning soundly outplayed him, sending another disappointed Lambeau crowd back to their local bars to drink brandy Old Fashioneds and stew briefly before reverting to their entirely pleasant natural states.

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