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Another smooth handoff for Green-Ellis

Posted Sep 18, 2012


BenJarvus Green-Ellis (right) with a couple of youngsters at Lazer Kraze.

The working definition of new Bengals running back BenJarvus Green-Ellis is reliable. Solid. Dependable. The guy with more names than a second story man on the lam has fewer fumbles than anything not software.

As in none. Zilch. 0.0.

"I may have had some," he says. "They just have not been very well documented."

Not at St. Augustine High School in New Orleans. Not at Indiana or Ole Miss. Not in 579 NFL touches, which Elias says is the longest streak to start a career since they started charting fumbles the season after World War II ended.

"High and tight," Green-Ellis says, giving his ball-security tips. "Keep the ball close to your body. Try not to have any air between you and the ball. Keep your arms up, like a boxer blocking a punch. They're trying to punch it out and they can if it's low and away from your body."

Reliable.

He's only played two games for the Bengals and he's already converted first downs on all five of his carries that are at third-and-two or less.

Solid.

He's only played one division game for Cincinnati and he's already helped melt a fourth quarter into a win in the brutal AFC North with eight carries Sunday against the Browns for 24 yards as the Bengals held the lead while keeping the ball for 9:38 of the fourth.

Dependable.

It's the first Monday night he's had before an off day this season, but here we are all the way out by Kings Island and he's hosting 50 children from St. Vincent de Paul at Lazer Kraze in the shadow of the big coaster for two hours of pizza, lazer tag and any other game that rings, sings and zings. Green-Ellis, a.k.a. BJGE, a.k.a. The Law Firm, posted the second highest score of the day in The Mission Impossible room, which on this night is not playing the Giants in the Super Bowl but avoiding enough lazers to post a big score.

"BenJarvus 92," he scrawls on the grease board jammed in with the kids' names.

"How about that?"" asks Eric Ball, the Bengals director of player development along for the night. "He's been here two weeks and he's already out in the community."

BJGE, 27, has been thinking about it for more than two weeks. Try two years.

During his four seasons in New England he became one of Bill Belichick's most trusted minutemen, that deadly efficient crew mustering on the village green 16 times every autumn and most of the time quelling any uprising against the NFL order. Green-Ellis also became popular throughout the region as a community constant, whether it was handing out a volunteer of the year award on the Cape or doing a youth football camp at Framingham State College.

But this one is laser tagged as his own. He comes to town not as a rookie free agent for a dynasty, but as a Super Bowl veteran lending his experience to last year's youngest AFC playoff team.

"It's not an event that Kevin Faulk is doing, or Tom Brady is doing. It's his own," Josselyn Timko says of the Driven Foundation. "It's something he's wanted to do the last year or so and we've looked into things, but now seemed to be the perfect time to step out on his own. He's a veteran on a young team in a new town, so it just seems right."

Just like The Law Firm showed up for guys like Brady and Faulk, his mates show up for his very own event Monday night. There is his fullback, Chris Pressley, his backups Cedric Peerman and Brian Leonard, wider receiver Ryan Whalen, and a couple of defensive guys, left end Carlos Dunlap and cornerback Jason Allen.

Green-Ellis greets them with a handshake and a half-shoulder hug and then he's off eating pizza with pre-teens at a table while Pressley jumps into a machine with a wheel and asks the little kid next to him, "Want to race?"

"Jason Allen is planning something for Thanksgiving and Christmas, so BenJarvus is going to be there for his events," Timko says.

She says The Firm is planning to do two community events a month ("It's the season and he doesn't want to overdo it," she says) as he gets settled, and taking it all in is Karen Williams, director of development for St. Vincent de Paul. If she looks like she's hit the lottery, she has.

She watched former Bengals linebacker Brian Simmons and his wife Rachel embrace the charity. When he was released it was left to kicker Shayne Graham to recruit players, and when he left the baton was passed to Bobbie Williams. Williams is now a Raven, but Karen Williams still has Andrew Whitworth, Domata Peko and also now, it seems, The Law Firm.

"We obviously miss Bobbie because he's such a great all-around guy," Williams says.

"Eric Ball is so good; he's always on the lookout," Williams says. "BenJarvus talked to him about getting involved in some things and he mentioned us. So we're getting to know him and as he walks around tonight we're giving him some information about our organization."

Williams wants Green-Ellis to know that St. Vincent de Paul is more than a thrift store. It helps people with utilities, furniture, anything to help them and their kids get back on their feet. Reliable. Solid. Dependable. This group is from the West End and Winton Hills and as Williams says, "These kids are never able to do something like this."

Williams seems to have impressed BJGE by the reach of the organization and she's impressed not only by him, but also by his friends. As they leave each of them tells her don't hesitate to call for their help.

"Handcuffs?" says the Firm incredulously as a little man proudly shows his new plastic toy he won with enough tickets to avoid a network blackout. "Yeah, I played cops and robbers when I was a little kid."

Ball wore The Firm's No. 42 a good 23 years before Green-Ellis did when he arrived in the Bengals backfield in the second round, so he's already had a good vibe from him.

"He's got a different demeanor now from when he first arrived," Ball says. "More outgoing. He says it's like a family here, that the players hang out together and support one another. He seems to be enjoying it."

The Firm liked the idea of closing off a funhouse for kids for a couple of hours and when Lazer Kraze wanted to open on a night the place is usually closed, it seemed like the perfect spot.

"I wanted it to be some place where they never get to go," BJGE says after emerging from the lazer tag room with Dunlap, the backs and the pizza kids. "I mean, if your parents always took you to a place, it wouldn't mean anything special, right?"

Green-Ellis also gets around to introducing his mates to a tall, pretty girl wearing a T-shirt that says on the back "42" and "The Law Firm."

"My girlfriend. Jade Morrell," he says.

From New Orleans, right?

"Yes," she says. "We've known each other since eighth grade."

Talk about reliable, solid, dependable.  

The major event St. Vincent de Paul does with the Bengals is the Shop-with-a-Bengal Christmas spree, where about six or seven players each take a group of children and treat them to presents. It didn't take long for Williams and The Law Firm to complete this handoff.

"He said," Williams smiles, "he'll be there for Shop-with-a-Bengal."

The Firm wouldn't fumble that one.

"High and tight," he says.

 

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