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Bengals Cut Punter Lee Johnson

December 7, 1998

CINCINNATI (AP) _ The Cincinnati Bengals released 14-year veteran punter Lee Johnson today, a day after he suggested the front office needs to change.

General manager Mike Brown told reporters the move had nothing to do with Johnson’s comments following a 33-20 loss to the Buffalo Bills. Johnson figured there was no other reason for the team to get rid of him.

``I’m sure I was released because of what I said,″ said Johnson, called out of a meeting this morning and told of the move. ``I meant what I said, but I didn’t think it was that incredible.″

Brad Costello, who lost out to Johnson during training camp and was cut, will be promoted from the developmental squad and handle punts and kickoffs for the last three games.

``He’s a young guy with a powerful leg. We want to see if he’s a guy who can do it for us next season,″ Brown said.

Johnson, 37, expected to be gone after the season because he’s in the final year of his contract. He expected to be cut during training camp, but Costello was inconsistent and the Bengals kept him.

During the loss Sunday, about two dozen banners decked Cinergy Field calling for Brown to step down as general manager. After the game, Johnson said he wouldn’t have bought a ticket if he were a fan.

``No, no way,″ Johnson said. ``You’re saying (losing) is OK. I guess if you’ve got nothing else to do. I’d sell my tickets.″

He also said that the front office’s methods aren’t working. The Bengals haven’t had a winning record since Brown took control of the team following his father’s death before the 1991 season.

Asked if he thinks there’s any validity to Johnson’s criticism, Brown said, ``No. I just think when you’re in our position, you have a tough defense. There’s not much you can say that anyone’s going to accept.″

Johnson finishes his career with team records for punts and punt yardage.

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