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Rey Maualuga celebrates 100 days of sobriety

Cincinnati Bengals v San Diego Chargers

SAN DIEGO - DECEMBER 20: Linebacker Rey Maualuga #58 of the Cincinnati Bengals on the field in warmups against the San Diego Chargers on December 20, 2009 at Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego, California. The Chargers won 27-24. (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)

Stephen Dunn

On one hand, we’re happy that Bengals linebacker Rey Maualuga hasn’t had a drink in the 100 days since he was arrested for DUI. On the other hand, it’s amazing that he was able to conceal a drinking problem for so long, especially since he seems to concede that his consumption affected his performance.

My body never felt so great. I never looked so good,” Maualuga told Steve Wyche of “I am so anxious for OTAs to start up. Now I can hopefully compare myself to last year when I wasn’t able to run 10 or 12 plays within a drive and not be incredibly tired. All my focus is on my body and how much stronger I can get, how much smarter I can be and being a reliable teammate. . . .

“I never gave my body the respect it deserves. I never gave my mind time to go through plays and dig deep and watch film and better myself as an intelligent football player instead of just a physical specimen on the field. I don’t think I played to my abilities last season. People say, ‘You did good for a rookie.’ I came out and made some plays but that wasn’t enough for me.”

The irony, of course, is that the Bengals, who routinely take chances on players with a history of off-field issues, picked Maualuga even though his problems apparently weren’t widely known.

Then again, some were surprised that Maualuga lasted until the second round. It could be that some teams had heard about his drinking, and that they had opted to steer clear, at least in the first round.

Regardless, Maualuga seems to have gotten the message. He has accepted the consequences of his arrest, and he has committed to staying sober and doing the best he can in the future as a pro football player.

“Some people sat there and said they could have got me the best lawyers to get out of it or to push off the court date and see if we can fight it or appeal it and win. [But] what’s all that going to prove?” Maualuga said. “I’m going to get a slap on the wrist, pay a ticket and not get a DUI charge? It’s not going to prove anything. I’m going to keep doing the same BS stuff and not taking care of my body and partying. I’m glad it happened. I got to learn some things and dig deep inside and listen to and find out about the people who cared who Rey Maualuga is.”

Wow. We all love a story of redemption, and Maualuga has written the early chapters of a saga that could be one of the best we’ve seen in recent years.