It seems some people have a hard time hating the Bengals. KSK’s own David Rappoccio, in his own guide to the rooting interest in the playoffs, asked, “does anyone actually hate the Bengals?” Well, if you can’t find a way to hate everyone in the playoffs, you’re probably just not trying. Cincinnati has many loathsome qualities. But the Bengals present the case of being an underdog simply by virtue of their franchise’s reputation as a laughingstock, even if they have been in the playoffs a lot recently for a laughingstock.
The problem with the Bengals underdog status is that, while it would be amusing to see them knock off the Patriots or Broncos, no objective fan cares enough about them to actually WANT to see them play for a title. I submit that you can hate the Bengals precisely because they are boring and unexceptional. For the previous two years, they were playoff filler, losing in painfully plodding games to the Texans, who were themselves also playoff filler. Sure, the Bengals roster has a few exciting players. A.J. Green is among the best receivers in the league. And Giovani Bernard is quite possibly the most exhilarating young running back in the game, so naturally the Bengals underuse him in favor of three-yard runs by Law Firm. Yet this team remains almost defiantly tiresome.
The most compelling storyline with the Bengals is the issue of which Andy Dalton will appear in any given game – the Red Rocket that aspires to Joe Flacco levels of elititude (incidentally, people mock Flacco for being having no personality but Flacco is downright charismatic compared to Dalton) or the derpy Dalton who throws four interceptions just when someone might start to believe in him. We just went through an “elite or not?” postseason run with Flacco last year. Do we really need a repeat with Andy Dalton?
Then there’s Marvin Lewis, who is just good enough to be the head coach of the Bengals until the 2040s but will never actually be a threat to win anything, either due to cruel quirks of fate or his own poor situational decision making. Lewis is reliable for a dumb challenge every now and again, but even his meltdowns fail to deliver the sheer delight that many of his peers do. Possibly because we know that his job will never be in jeopardy. It’s like seeing a tenured professor show up drunk to class, kind of funny but mostly just sad.
Most football fans don’t have much of a concept of what a Cincinnati fan is like because they seldom deal with or care about them, but take it from someone who puts up with the Who Deys on a regular basis – Bengals fans are even more brittle and resentful than Browns fans. In fact, they could very well be the most bitter fan base in the NFL. Whereas fans of more pathetic franchises, such as Cleveland and Detroit, for the most part have resigned themselves to the bleak despair that defines their existence and even developed a dark sense of humor associated with it, Bengals fans still act like the world owes them something, despite the fact that they reside in the southwestern Ohio/ northern Kentucky hellscape.
Believe me, Bengals fans, we know you dislike Mike Brown. We won’t dare deny you that very shrill hatred of yours. After all, he’s notoriously cheap and he swindled taxpayers. Of course, the latter is true of just about every owner in the NFL, so not sure why this should engender any extra sympathy for you. Now that the Bengals have made the playoffs for the third straight year, it’s almost hard to recall all the Cincinnati fans who wanted to boycott and protest the team until Brown hired a general manager. He never did. What he did start doing, however, is draft well. Amazing what a few strong draft classes will do to quell dissent.
Just wait, though – the next time the Bengals tank a season or lose 10 games, you’ll see a small legion of paunchy white guys still wearing T.J. Houshmandzadeh jerseys tell you about how they’re “too smart” to bother supporting a team with such an idiot owner. The fact that Kroger had to buy up a ton of tickets to stave off a blackout of Sunday’s game might suggest that Bengals fans are consistent in their ambivalent feelings about the team, rest assured it’s just because their aren’t enough non-brokedick people in that city to fill up Paul Brown Stadium.
So fuck you, Cincinnati.
Your team produced the worst season of Hard Knocks ever.
I hope Mike Zimmer gets a head coaching job but Jay Gruden doesn’t.
I hope Mike Brown takes over as defensive coordinator.
I hope you don’t win a playoff game for another 23 years.
The best thing your franchise ever produced was the Ickey Shuffle and even that was fucking stupid.
I wouldn’t even feed Skyline Chili to war criminals.
I wish for you all to spend an eternity in hell where you are forever in position but powerless to stop Joe Montana’s march to John Candy.
But mostly I wish you the same old Bungles.