Being a Bengals fan makes you tough. You get salty from the experience. Watching the kind of tripe we do on Sundays gives you the kind of resiliency Timex would admire. We take our likings and keep on ticking.
Secondly, you get numb to ridicule. You learn to withstand a constant barrage of mocking, contempt and scoffing. It’s the kind of daily teasing that would send your average Steeler fan into a raging tri-state killing spree, but it becomes water off a ducks back for us.
Thirdly, and most importantly, you get creative in your abilities to see the theoretical light at the end of the tunnel. Common sense and basic physics may be as constant as the northern star, but you learn to explain them away in your mind in an effort to avoid what you know but don’t want to believe: Your team has no idea what they are doing. This third skill allows us to play out endless scenarios and envision hypothetical outside-the-box thinking that doesn’t really happen. It allows us to speculate on what might be the mystical “master plan” that will soon prove that all of this nonsense and stupidity was actually a series of brilliant and cunning maneuvers.
Alas, like many of you, I’m losing that third trait in a hurry.
Whether it’s old age, experience, or simple cynicism, I’m seeing more and more what this franchise truly is: Broken beyond repair. While the Bengals have been a laughingstock for decades now, this is the lowest point of all.
This is the winter of our discontent.
A once proud fan base is leaving in droves. Season ticket renewals are down and fan anger has reached a fever pitch but nothing of substance changes. The band plays on.
First there was that ridiculous staring contest between Mike Brown and Marvin Lewis, with Lewis eventually bowing to his puppet master and showing us all how inept they both were with that joke of a press conference.
Next the franchise quarterback; the man who has one of the 32 highest-paying spots in the NFL, demanded to be given his leave or he’d quit outright. The anti-diva pulled a diva move and the magnitude of this doomsday scenario has yet to be fully explored in this space or any other because in Cincinnati the surreal is normal. Can you imagine Peyton Manning or Tom Brady demanding a trade and threatening retirement? Drew Brees? Philip Rivers? Ben Roethlisberger? That would be utterly bizarre. Here, it’s just the latest chapter in the thick volumes of team follies.
Then there was the staff coaching—and losing—the Senior Bowl (again), and looking bad doing it. There’s the ongoing uproar over the stadium lease, Chad Ochocinco continually acting a fool, and T.O. basically calling the coaching staff incompetent and unqualified. “Offensively,” Owens said, “we really didn’t have the coaching that we really needed to muster what we had on the offensive side of the ball.”
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