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Written by Cameron Papp
January 15, 2013
I moved from Cincinnati to Northern California a little over two years ago. The difference in fandom from that of the Midwest compared to the West Coast is for another conversation and another time. But if you live on the Coast or anywhere else and have no idea what it’s like to be a Cincinnati Bengals fan, let me enlighten you.
My friend asked me before the Bengals took on the Texans in the first round of the playoffs, what it was like to root for a mediocre coach in Marvin Lewis. Similar to Dusty Baker and maybe the city of Cincinnati itself, Marvin is solid. He’s not terrible. He’s not great. He has had fairly decent success during the regular season but has yet to win a playoff game.
I responded to my friend and replied, “yeah, Marvin is mediocre but you have to understand, growing up a Bengals fan, you’re almost ecstatic just to have mediocrity.”
This then led me to look up the Bengals’ records of my childhood online and read them off to him (Marvin took over the team in 2003):
I often joke about San Francisco Giants fans, calling them out as not “real fans” for drinking wine at ball games, only watching games when it’s the postseason and listening to Journey. But with that there is a hidden sense of jealously. The Giants organization is stellar, they have fun players to root for and Bruce Bochy is best manager in major league baseball, bar none. There are of course real Giants fans who are very knowledgeable and take their team seriously.
But what really pissed me off the most was in 2010 when Giants’ fans started saying they were “tortured”
Really? Tortured? Cool, your team played in a bunch of close games. Welcome to baseball in October. Stop with the bullshit. Your team moved to the SF in the late 50’s and damn near left once in 76 for Toronto and then for Tampa in 92 because no one in the Bay Area gave a shit about them when they were terrible. Even the Oakland A’s felt so bad for you that they gave you territorial rights to San Jose.
Being a Bengals fan is torture. Not because they’ve been bad for so long. I can handle that. But because it aches me to my soul to root for our owner, Mike Brown and the organization that he runs. There is no GM in professional sports worse than Brown. He doesn’t give a shit about the players, fans or the city.
“I’m tired of it, six years of this B.S. I ain’t lying to you. I’m sick of this crap, period.” – Corey Dillion
“In Cincy, the team lives off money it earns from football. Houston’s owner has other business interests and he controls the money. They (Texans) help with anything you ask of them because they are a very caring organization with positive attitudes about its players. In Cincy, we’re told how much Gatorade we could take home.” – Jonathan Joseph
On Brown renewing Bruce Coslet’s contract with a record of 21-36:
“I don’t understand it. We’re trying to win; we’re trying to turn this thing around out there. And they bring (Coslet) back.” – Carl Pickens
On the contract Brown made with Hamilton County for Paul Brown Stadium:
The [property] tax hit is just the latest in a string of unforeseen consequences from what has turned into one of the worst professional sports deals ever struck by a local government — soaking up unprecedented tax dollars and county resources while returning little economic benefit,” – Wall Street Journal
But in Cincinnati, if you don’t want to support your shitty owner, then you’re hopping on and off the bandwagon and not a real fan I guess. This is what people in Cincy tell me when I say I’m done rooting for the Bengals (which happens about once a year during every offseason).
Yes, Brown got lucky in a couple of drafts, particularly 2010 when he grabbed my man-crush, A.J. Green and stole Andy Dalton in the 2nd round. Something good will happen when you’re constantly drafting in the top 10 spots every year. This can’t make up for 20 years of bullshit penny pinching. Drafting/signing numerous players with red flags so he could save another dime under the salary cap.
I won’t even get into whole “Bengals only sign convicts” narrative.
Ok, maybe a little. Feel free to browse here for the most arrests by a team since 2000
But no, let me just throw out an example of what I deal with as a Bengals fan under this man:
The 2010 offseason is when I was really on the brink. The Bengals needed a WR—
I guess—and here is what transpired:
February 2010: Mikey signs a coked out Matt Jones for $700,000. Doesn’t make the roster. 0 catches, 0 yards.
March 2010: Mikey signs an injured, old, on his way out of the league Antonio Bryant for 4 years, 28 million dollars. Released 6 months later before the start of the season. 0 catches, 0 yards.
July 2010: Mikey signs Terrell Owens for $2 million dollars. Now, TO’s stats ended up very good for his age at the end of the season. Unfortunately I watched every game. Carson Palmer was the garbage time king. When you’re constantly throwing because you’re down by 21 at halftime, stats will add up. It’s easy to rack up receiving yards when 1/5 of them were against a loss to Cleveland on the way to a 4-12 record. 72 receptions. 983 yards. 9 tds.
Oh, and this was all after Mikey drafts Jerome Simpson in the 2nd round and Andre Caldwell in the 3rd round of the 2008 draft. You know, our Wide Receivers of the future. Jerome ended up winning the Pothead of the Year Award (edging out Miley Cyrus and Michael Phelps) by getting caught with over 8 pounds of some nice Cali weed while Caldwell caught one catch for 12 yards in 2012 for the Broncos.
It’s not about wasted money. Matt, (George Yung) Jones was worth a risk for 7k. TO ended up with good stats, bloated as they may be, and maybe Mikey thought Antonio Bryant was Dez Bryant. Or something.
No, it’s the whole mentality. It’s a microcosm of Mike Brown’s ownership tenure. The “I don’t give a shit about building a team, just whatever I can get for cheap and keep enough fans in the stadium” strategy.
Mark my words. There is absolutely positively no way on god’s green earth that the Bengals will win a Super Bowl while Mike Brown is the owner/general manager of this team.
The Bengals made headlines last month when they decided to retain the rights of undrafted linebacker Brandon Joiner after he was sentenced to three years in prison. – ESPN.com
But in the end, it doesn’t matter.
They always bring me back in. I was a season ticket holder with my family since I was born until I moved to California. The Bengals are a part of me. They are my childhood, just like eating cheese coneys, throwing water balloons (at cars) in the summer and snowballs in the winter. They’re this tick that just won’t go away.
All I can do is just wait for the day Mike Brown passes away. Only one thing…then his daughter takes over the organization.
Fuck my life.
At least I’m not from Cleveland.