Upon perusing the CBSSports.com sports headlines, I stumbled upon National Columnist Gregg Doyel's article titled With T.O. Aboard, Are You Still a Bengals Fan? May I Ask Why? . Upon reading the article, I felt compelled to respond. I wrote him an email in response. I figured I would post my response here for others to read. I encourage you to first read his article, or at least enough of it to understand his major points. Hopefully you enjoy what I have to say and empathize with me, as I seek to illustrate what we as Cincinnati sports fans have endured over the last two decades. WHO-DEY!
Did you ever consider that not every fan is a bandwagon jumper. I was indoctrinated with the Bengals at an early age. My parents left me with a babysitter and headed down to Miami for Super Bowl XXIII when I was four years old. Am I supposed to go root for the Steelers now? Oh wait, their quarterback is a rapist. Oh, and this suspension isn't Big Ben's first alleged transgression involving forceful advances. Pacman Jones' last indictment was how long ago? Cedric Benson? Heck, even Matt Jones' drug related indictment is long gone.
Should I root for the Ravens, Doyle? I mean, Terrell Suggs is a woman beater. That fan base should obviously dissipate into oblivion and root for the Broncos and Tim Tebow who, if he practices what he preaches, is going to probably give a minimum of 10 percent of his $8.75 million signing bonus away to his ministry of choice.
The National Football league is fueled by athletes who are testosterone driven, and probably undetectably performance enhanced by hgh or other banned substances. To quote the corrupt team physician in the Oliver Stone film Any Given Sunday, "they are gladiators, they are warriors!".
The other day, an acquaintance of mine asserted that Ochocinco and TO would probably wind up suspended or incarcerated prior to the season's conclusion. Dumbfounded, I felt compelled to ask the dude to cite a precedent that made him feel this way, and I quickly pointed out that neither Chad nor TO had a suspension or jail time on his respective (and borderline HOF) resume.
In the interest of respecting your time, I'd like to close by answering your headlining question "With T.O. aboard, are you still a Bengals fan? May I ask why? " with one word. Winning.
The Mike Brown-run era of Bengals football has been dismal at best. The Bengals are on the verge of consecutive playoff berths for the first time since I can remember. I empathize with my fellow Bengals fans who, like me, endured season after season of miserable Bengals teams. Then there is the draft. Oh man. This pains me to even think about, let alone address in writing.
Bengals fans endured Big Daddy Wilkinson's selection ahead of Marshall Faulk. The few Bengals fans who were still bold enough to identify themselves as such back in '99 collectively shook their heads on draft day when Mike Brown turned down Mike Ditka's gift of two first round draft choices and eight total draft picks for the rights to move up the number three slot to select running back Ricky Williams! The last nail in the coffin was, of course, that Brown selected Akili Smith as our quarterback of the future.
We watched the Bengals trade back in the first round when Steven Jackson was the top running back on the board, only to select Michigan running back Chris Perry. Our fan base followed the combine results intently, and watched videos mocking Andre Smith's forty yard dash run, only to see Mike Brown queue up Andre Smith's name ahead of Eugene Monroe and Michael Oher.
I attended a Bengals game last season versus the Detroit Lions. There was a fourth grader sitting next to me accompanied by an assortment of surrogate father figures. None of the men seemed to stake claim to the child, nor scold the hot chocolate fueled boy, as he incessantly argued for Ohio State's prowess as the top dog in college football with Cincinnati football fans four times his age in the row behind him.
When Andre Smith made his way onto the field, the kid excitedly averted his attention from his argument and exclaimed "Big titties is in the huddle!! Big titties is in the huddle!!!! ". This is the era of sports we live in. We identify players by what they lack as opposed to what they bring to the field. There is one cure-all. One scapegoat for all of these attitudes and egos: Winning.
As a Bengals' fan, I'm desperate for victory. I want to see a Super Bowl trophy hoisted. Winning. The same cure-all for NFL franchises. Winning. The same reason that, in the twilight of their careers, two of the NFL's poster children for egocentricity are willing to share the ball. Neither T.O. nor Chad have won that coveted Superbowl ring. As Ocho recently noted, "it would be a G.D. shame" if the Bengals didn't win a Super Bowl this year.
So Gregg, I don't know who your team of choice is, but for a minute, try and fathom living in a city where at an early age, all you knew was success on a large scale (I'd consider two Super Bowl appearances in a decade, albeit losses to Joe Montana, fairly successful). The Reds won a world series in 1990. Since that Reds' crowning, there have been three playoff appearances by Cincinnati's two major professional sports teams.
So, in a word, I am not alone. Bengals fans are not alone. This city is hungry for winning. The Reds are in the midst of a race for a division title for the first time since 1999 (11 years ago, Gregg!), when Al Leiter one-hit them in a one game playoff, ending the Reds' bid for a final playoff spot. It's August, and the Reds are contending. It's almost surreal. That's how most of our fans feel about our Bengals right now, too.
The Bengals...Heh. No need to go there. For my own sake, I'll just stick to the city. This city has not seen one single playoff victory since sweeping the Dodgers in the 1995 NLDS. That ended abruptly when the Maddux-Glavine-Smoltz-lead Braves rotation brought out the brooms in the '95 CS.
This city wants to taste victory again, bro! Chad even admitted “We’re best friends off the field, and (TO and I) have the same goal in mind: Winning.” There's your answer Gregg, straight from the Ocho.
Winning. TO and Chad know this is their best chance yet, and maybe their last. Bengals fans view this season in the same light. With new CBA discussions looming, this may be our fans' last chance to see a Super Bowl victory in our city. I enjoyed your article, and look forward to more of your controversial, albeit entertaining content. Feel free to share this in your hate mail section if you like, but I prefer to consider it enlighten-mail.