That was a full-blown travesty. The kind of thing that reaches deep down, grabs you by the cockles, and twists with a repeated clockwise motion until you want to scream, throw things, and cry “Uncle!” all at once.
I’m speaking, of course, of that Bengals game. The local NFL franchise, which is purported to consist of professionals, embarrassed their fans and the entire city of Cincinnati in a manner that even those of us having taken our licks at the altar of Bengal fandom for the past twenty years found outrageous. By now, of course, you’ve heard the outlandish tale: with a 28-7 lead at one point in the game, our boys in stripes packed up and left the stadium at half-time and ended up losing by the gut-wrenching score of 49-31.
Luckily, the game wasn’t televised or the number of voicemail messages left for television repair outfits in the area needed to extricate nacho bowls from HD television displays would have been beyond count. As it was, I didn’t listen to the entire game, myself. When it became apparent in the second half that a feat of epic Bungaldom was in the offing, I stopped paying attention and prayed my wife would give me a list of chores to which I might attend.
Yes, Bengals, you drove me to the Honey-Do list.
As hard as it is to believe, though, the final score of that cough game cough yesterday wasn’t the hardest pill to swallow. If you’ve been watching them for as long as I have, you couldn’t have been too terribly surprised. Disgusted, sure, but not surprised. Shameful, bury-your-face-in-your-hands loses are a dime-a-dozen around here, so at some level you had to kind of expect it. No, the hardest part of that game came later, when the already disheartened Bengals fans got online and started taking the social media abuses.
Believe it or not, there are apparently people out there who revel in the misery of the Bengals fan, and can’t wait to use whatever forums they have available to really grind that insult in as deeply as possible. My news feed yesterday read very much like, “Lolololololzzzzz! How’s that taste bungal luver? Your guys couldn’t beat a team of grandparents to the 4:30 dinner buffet in Florida! I’ve watched better Little League games!”
For the record, nothing anyone said was untrue. It just, you know, hurt. A lot. The thing is that being afflicted with Bungaldom is hard enough on its own. Having to suffer slings and arrows brought about by the Schadenfreude of Johnny-Your-Team-Sucks is just more than anyone should have to bear.
Look, I get it; you’re smarter and/or luckier than I am. Your great Uncle Bevis was the assistant mouth-guard equipment man for the Bears in the 60’s, or you’re from a military family that moved around a lot as kid and you happened to live in Dallas during your key childhood fan-development years, or you just decided to start rooting for the Colts one day because, well, they go to the playoffs more than twice every quarter century.
The thing is, I’m not you. My childhood football seasons were filled with my father muttering the sound “tch!” repeatedly every Sunday afternoon as he graded papers while watching our team underachieve. I was raised with an understanding that the Bengals were always more likely to embarrass you than give you reason to be proud. I can’t just up and pick a new team because mine gives me the urge to smack myself in the head with a hive of angry hornets once a week. I’m from Cincinnati (for NFL purposes), I can no more hang up on the Bengals than I could declare that scrapple was better than goetta.
As Cincinnati Enquirer columnist Paul Daugherty wrote for SI.com a few weeks ago, it’s not easy being a Bengals fan (for the record, he isn’t one, he just works here, but he was raised on the Pittsburgh Pirates and Washington Redskins, so he understands our pain). We’ve been run through the ringer and back again, beat down, tarred, feathered, de-pantsed, and given the atomic wedgie. Sadly, for me and others like me, none of that changes anything. I’m a Bengals fan and I always will be, regardless of the number of times over the coming years I swear them off, curse Mike Brown’s name, or find myself the object of bar-stool ridicule.
Hello, my name is a Puddin, and I’m a Bengals fan. It’d be great if you could cut me some slack; I get abused enough on Sundays.
PS: For the record, I haven’t purchased a ticket from Mike Brown in nearly a decade. I might be an idiot, but just because I’m a Bengals fan, doesn’t mean I’m going to pay someone to smack me around.