The Bengals 2/13/22

Sports with Richard Bleil?  Really??

Okay, full disclosure, I’m not a sports fan.  All I know about sports is that you have nine innings to make ten yards to put the puck in the basket while wearing spandex.  But if I am going to watch any sports, I’ll watch football.  I like that there’s a break between every play, so you can think about where they are, what they need, and predict what they would do.  Having been born in Cincinnati, I am a Bengals fan, but being from Ohio, that makes me a freak.

See, Ohio is one of five states with not one, but actually two NFL teams, namely the Bengals and the Browns.  Now, I have not found anything to verify this story, but according to my father (who sometimes did embellish or make up stories), this happened because of the legendary Coach Brown.  Apparently, he was the coach for the Cleveland Browns (and they were named after him), but they fired him.  He had the opportunity to create another NFL franchise and chose to do it in Ohio to spite his former team.  The story goes on to claim that, while every new NFL franchise always had the first-round draft pick in their first year, the NFL commission was so afraid of Coach Brown’s prowess that they gave him the very last draft round pick that year.  The Cleveland Browns were franchised in 1945 by Coach Brown and a businessman, Arthur B. McBride, and the Bengals were franchised in 1967, also by Coach Brown, so it is very possible. 

Whether or not that legend is true, I can tell you a few things about the two teams.  First is just the fact that, for some reason, the Bengals do not seem very popular in Ohio.  Within Cincinnati itself might be a different story, but the rest of the state feels very much like a Browns state.  This is interesting for a couple of reasons.  First, as I understand it, the Cleveland Browns became the first NFL franchise to relocate when it left Cleveland in 1995 and relocated to Baltimore.  Four years later, Baltimore barfed the team back up, and they returned to Cleveland.  The popularity of the Browns remains as strong as ever despite their betrayal of the Cleveland fans. 

Another reason that I don’t understand the Brown’s popularity is because, in its seventy-seven-year history, the Browns have never been to the Superbowl.  Not even once.  This year will be the Bengals THIRD appearance in the Superbowl.  That the Bengals are in the Superbowl is almost of secondary importance in the state anyway.  The Browns and Bengals are rivals, and it seems as if, every year, the Browns/Bengals rivalry games are held in the highest regards.  Still, the third appearance in the Superbowl is quite significant, and I can only hope they don’t choke.  Again.

The first two Bengal appearances almost felt like reruns.  In both appearances, the Bengals were facing the San Francisco 49ers, and in both cases, they lost by less than six points (26 to 21 in 1982, and 20 to 16 in 1989).  Maybe they’ll do better against the Los Angeles Rams today. 

In both games, the Bengals were simply destroyed in the first half, and fought back, valiantly, in the second.  In both games, there was one moment when they failed to convert just a few yards from the goal.  I distinctly remember them trying to get on the board in one of these two Superbowl games, less than five yards from the goal, and burning all four downs unable to just push their way to a score.  It wasn’t the last play, but had they managed to convert it would have made them champion.

I suppose, as long as I am talking about the Bengals, I should mention my uncle.  See, he worked in the university where I was at college in the office for Veterans and Disabled Students.  It was a good fit, since he was both a vet and was blind (fully blind in one eye, over 95% blind in the other).  He was a funny guy, though.  He still got Playboy, but to look at it he had to use a jeweler’s eyepiece and hold his eye about an inch from the page.  I cannot imagine how he could piece together photos that way, but what really blew my mind was the number of Bengal Cheerleaders worked with him in the office.  For them, I’m guessing it was a nice break to work for somebody who didn’t leer at them, but one day, I had to ask him why he wanted them working there.  He said, I may not be able to see them, but I can smell them, can’t I?  And if you’re wondering about the movie, I had graduated from that university seven years before Scent of a Woman was released. 

Yes, I’ll be watching the game today.  It would be nice to finally see them win the Superbowl, but in 1982 I was in college (first year), so I do remember both appearances.  This year, being the day before Valentine’s Day (don’t worry about it, guys; it’s too late now to find the gift or make the reservations to save you) it would be a great Valentine’s Day gift to be able to say that we are the Superbowl champions.

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