CINCINNATI (AP) — With a 4-foot-3 Cleveland television celebrity in the audience to question him, Bengals coach Marvin Lewis apologized a third time on Wednesday for calling Browns quarterback Johnny Manziel "a midget."
Lewis referred to the 6-foot quarterback that way during a radio show on Monday night. He has tried for the last two days to get beyond the remark, which added a little more intrigue to a game with playoff implications for both Ohio teams.
The Bengals (8-4-1) have a half-game lead in the AFC North over Pittsburgh and Baltimore. The Browns (7-6) need a win Sunday in Cleveland to stay in the race. Manziel will make his first career start.
Facing reporters directly Wednesday for the first time since the remark, Lewis said his comment "was dumb and caused a lot of uproar. I apologize again for that."
John Rinaldi, a local television personality who's an entertainer, not a journalist, sat in the front row and asked Lewis how the Bengals will have to adjust given the height difference between Manziel and former starter Brian Hoyer.
Lewis said they'll "adjust the plan accordingly" with the new quarterback. Later, Rinaldi asked a question about how Hoyer "likes to stand tall" in the pocket while Manziel moves around.
"I think that's very similar to your first question," Lewis responded, saying the Bengals would account for that. There were no more height-related questions.
In Cleveland, Manziel said he wasn't offended by Lewis' comment. He found the attention to his height amusing.
"I'm not going to sprout 5 inches over the course of the week," Manziel said. "It is what it is and my height is my height and I need to overcome it with other pieces of my game and that's it."
Lewis' comment was reminiscent of the way former Bengals coach Sam Wyche touched a nerve in Cleveland in 1989.
During a game against Seattle at Riverfront Stadium, fans started throwing snowballs at the field. Wyche took the sideline microphone from the public address announcer, told the fans to stop and said, "You don't live in Cleveland, you live in Cincinnati."
AP Sports Writer Tom Withers in Cleveland contributed to this report.
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