Born Into Bengals Nation

Tom MirickCorrespondent IMay 22, 2009

CINCINNATI - OCTOBER 28:  A Cincinnati Bengals fan is pictured during the NFL game against the Pittsburgh Steelers at Paul Brown Stadium on October 28, 2007 in Cincinnati, Ohio.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

My name is Tom Mirick and I have been a fan of the Bengals every since I can remember. My family is all huge Bengals fans so it really wasn't an option, I was born into Bengals Nation, and I have no regrets.

If you’re a fan of the Steelers or Patriots get out of my tragedy, I sat through the 90's and early 2000's watching every game and having my yearly mantra of  “wait to next year were going to be good" destroyed. I hear a lot of sports pundits talk of all the great fans and rarely does anyone mention Cincinnati, which is a shame, because Cincinnati has some of the best fans of any team in any sport.

There are few teams that have had the futility of the Cincinnati Bengals. There are no fans of the Cincinnati Bengals that would fall under the category of bandwagon; if you’re a Bengals fan you earned the right to wear your stripes, through years of futility and mismanagement by the Bengals organization.

My mom and Dad divorced when I was about three years old, and like a lot of kids with divorced parent’s trips to Dad’s house every other weekend and a couple weeks of the summer became ritual.

It was Christmas time and I was about seven years old, my Dad called me into the living room where the tree was set up, and told me he had one more present for me, he handed me a envelope and inside it was my seat confirmation for the 84-85 Bengals season. Up until this point we had parties at the house with friends and family and watched the Bengals game, always’ a festive event with food and drink.

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 Since I can remember my dad took me to Wilmington OH, to watch the Bengals at training camp, I used this time to fill my autograph books and get pictures of my favorite players. At my first game my dad gave me a new Chris Collinsworth jersey, a Bengals hat, and he painted our faces with Bengals stripes. In the colder months I was armed with my orange and black Bengals tiger gloves.

The people who had seats around us became like family more than our friends, seeing the same people for six months for six years has that effect. The ladies in the stands always brought me some kind of sweets and a jug of hot chocolate, and every Christmas they brought me Bengals related Christmas gifts.

I have great sports memories in the old Bengals home, Riverfront Stadium, even though there were rough times as a Bengals fan. I have alot of great childhood memories such as getting up early on Sunday so that my Dad, Uncle, and I could tailgate, eating burgers and metts tossing the pigskin as well as rooting for the Bengals.

Could there be anything more fun on a cold Sunday afternoon?

I have early memories of us having season tickets that are foggier than others, like when the Bengals hosted the Chargers and the Bengals were in the lead and San Diego drove and scored with just over a minute left. I remember how disheartened I felt. The Bengals took over at the twenty as fans started to exit the aisles. They needed a touchdown to win, and had 80 yards to go, the first play was of no big significance, however the next play made the jungle erupt, James Brooks took a handoff and took it to the house; touchdown Bengals win.

Other memories are as clear as if it were just yesterday, like January 8 1989, the first time the Bengals made it to the playoffs when we had season tickets.

Cincinnati was at a fever pitch and the Ickey shuffle was running rampant. Enter the Buffalo Bills led by HOF QB Jim Kelly and RB Thurman Thomas in their first AFC Championship game; however the Bengals defense proved to be too much. They hassled the Bills QB all day long right from the first series.

The Bills got the ball first and Jim Kelly threw an interception to Bengals CB Eric Thomas. The Bengals drove down inside the three and everyone in Cincinnati knew what was coming next, handoff Icky Woods, touchdown Bengals.  

The whole city of Cincinnati celebrated doing their own versions of the Ickey shuffle. The Bengals took a 14-10 halftime lead which proved to be enough. The Bengals came out on defense playing like the Kings of their Jungle, allowing Buffalo only two first downs in the second half. The Bengals had one more scoring drive which ended the same way as the game began, handoff Ickey Woods’s, touchdown.

I can still remember watching Ickey Woods do his shuffle and trying my best to imitate no matter how goofy I looked. Like I said I was born into the Bengals Nation I didn’t have a choice, but I would have it no other way.

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