As I write this, I realize this opinion might not be popular. It is going to stray from the traditional negative views which many will take with regards to the Bengals' '09 season, including the playoff loss this past Saturday to the Jets.
Some people may think I am living in a cloud and/or am not being realistic. However, I will state, publicly and proudly, that I love the Cincinnati Bengals and I am proud, not disappointed, of their 2009 season from start to finish.
It is true that a fan or fanatic in my case is normally only concerned with the “what have you done for me lately” methodology. This is also true of most broadcasters who are paid to have short-term memories and frankly don’t like to be wrong regarding team predictions and forecasts. Those who didn’t expect much from the Bengals as similar to year’s past found it hard to believe in this team and used every opportunity to be critical.
We are quick to point out Carson or Chad’s mistakes, but we being the media and fan base never hold ourselves accountable in the same manner whether it’s admitting that a team was misjudged or a fan who acknowledges they have been faithless instead of supportive.
Does a person have to be resilient to love the Bengals organization? Absolutely, but until anyone of us steps into their shoes for even a single day, then I don’t see how we can justifiably place restrictions on our loyalty to them.
I don’t understand how it’s helpful to boo them at every home game, while also barely selling out our stadium. We as fans have to be better than that and better for them and to them or else maybe it's time we leave them. I’m sorry if this sounds judgmental, but I am also guilty of these same things.
For years, the Bengals performance each Sunday determined my mood the following Monday. As a wise person once said, “You think you are part of the team, but you are not really. They are not calling you for advice, and/or do not care who you want in free agency.”
After several years of feeling jaded, I finally realized that giving them everything is my choice and mine alone. If I didn’t like this team and didn’t want to follow them as passionately as I had, then I could stop.
After the Jets game, I was hurt and disappointed, but mostly I was sad. I wanted them to go to the Super Bowl and I wanted them to win for Chris H and Mrs. Z. However, I am learning that sometimes it helps to reflect on a situation as a whole, so as I did this the memories which surfaced were surprisingly mostly good.
Some of these moments include…
-This was the most resilient Bengals team I have witnessed in years. The key word being team and not a few high profile individuals…
-We had 10 wins this year, swept our division and won the AFC North Division. This includes two wins a piece against Pittsburgh and Baltimore, who let's face it, have dominated us the last several years…
-We put together an offensive line of nobody’s that gave up 26 sacks one year removed from 2008, in which they were on pace to give up 44.
-Do you remember the grunt and run past Cromartie for a TD, which Chad completed in the San Diego game in honor of Chris Henry?
-Or how about the clutch catches Andre Caldwell made to win the game against both Pittsburgh and Baltimore?
-Or how many times did you see Palmer on the sidelines talking to and leading his team? This differs greatly from the usual separation witnessed on the bench of a losing team.
-But most of all, remember how they rebounded after the devastating Denver loss? Everyone, including myself groaned, “Here we go again Bengals,” but they followed that game with a win, thus setting the tone for the season. Not bad, considering they only won 4 games the year prior.
I am a firm believer in identifying and correcting mistakes and I am a firm believer in winning. However, I think there is much to be gained from not obsessing over a team’s failure as we all fail in different times and manners and we use this to grow. I think in this journey of life that it’s always a journey and there is no destination which one arrives and everything is perfect.
I think that is why I love football so much. Football gives us a chance to root for the underdog, which everyone else writes off.
I think a team is the winner at the end of it all because collectively a group of guys do more things right than wrong with regards to their team decisions and game plan(s) throughout the year.
However, please note that I am not condoning losing or mediocrity. What I am saying is it that instead of always focusing on the bad, why don’t we move forward by building upon and improving not just the bad, but also the good. Bengals fans, we have Maualuga, Antwan Odom, Reggie Kelly, Zimmer and a few other key people returning for 2010.
We have finally built a foundation for success and we can now use 2010 to build our house. GO BENGALS!!!