The Bengals PR blog is at it again. They’ve came up with a list of counter points to each one of the criteria ESPN graded the Bengals so poorly on. It’s definitely a must read for any and all Bengals fans and it makes a few valid points when looking at the criteria as well.
But I have to be honest, as much I’m a fan of the Bengals, I have a lot of love for the team and will continue to support them always. But the truth of the matter is, some of the responses point out the massive disconnect with the fan base as it seems to miss the point of why they were ranked at the position they are.
In response to WDP I have my own counter points to the reasoning they put up on the post.
- Ownership: Alright, ESPN breaks this down into 3 rankings, Honesty, Loyalty to core players, and commitment to the community. WDP makes great points, but the thing is; if you want to brag about how much money you’re giving away to charity and build things across the city. Then don’t ask Hamilton county for another 43 million dollars to renovate PBS (This did anger many fans, even though the updates may be needed). Many local fans find the money PBS and the Bengals have costed the county a “touchy subject” to say the least. Some fans would even go as far to say they feel Mike Brown extorted Hamilton county into financing PBS just to keep the team in Cincinnati. This isn’t to say Mike Brown isn’t a good person, I’m sure he’s a great person. But he’s a businessman, and he owns the a franchise that’s never won a championship; so popularity won’t be something Brown (or many rich businessmen) have a lot of. I do whole heartily believe that in a contrast to the football success, if they were to grade the revenue (balanced % scale) of all the franchises Mike Brown wouldn’t be at the bottom of that ranking.
- Fan Relations: WDP defends this by talking about being the accessibility of training camp in Georgetown, the public practice in Dayton, and the free tours given of PBS. ESPN breaks this topic into 4 categories: Players Act Professionally (on and off the field), Appreciation Shown to fans, Player Accessibility to fans & Providing an Avenue of Fan Feedback. With these categories, it’s easy to understand why the Bengals were slaughtered in the rankings. With professionalism from players it’s quite apparent, the Bengals have struggled with losing the image of being the “convicts” of the NFL. And it’s fair to say why you may love or hate Chad, it’s questionable if he is always acting as a “professional”. Appreciation towards fans has always been “iffy”, there is some effort. so it is unfair to say the team doesn’t try at all. An example of this would be the charity basketball games and the accessibility in training camp. It’s something but it does leave something to be desired, and when compared to other teams it starts looking a little worse. Player accessibility is definitely there, it may be due more to the fact we’re in such a digital world then to the team, but it’s there. Most Bengals have a Facebook or a Twitter, and usually (outside of Chad) they’ll respond to your questions and comments. In some cases if your doing a charity event, they’ll give you a helping hand in spreading the word of the event. And for Fan Feedback, your best options are by mail to PBS, social media, contacting the Webmaster of Bengals.com or posting on the official message boards. With those being all the options, I’d actually feel bad if there was a team that ranked lower.
- Affordability: ESPN breaks it all down with 3 categories of Ticket, Parking and Concession prices. WDP says : “we have not raised ticket prices during two of the last three years, and our tickets continually rank in the lower third of the NFL” . Well as a matter of fact the team only beats out 4 NFL franchises in ticket price ranking on ESPN. Those 4 being: the Cowboys, Jets, Giants and Redskins. Considering the markets, I sorta expect their prices being a little more pricey. Concerning parking, it’s a total minor subject. Many fans who go to sporting events are carpooling and park at other locations and walk for a small distance. Concessions on the other hand can be a major annoyance at PBS, and again are ranked in the bottom 5 franchises. Any stadiums concession prices are going to be “expensive” to a fan wanting drink or food during the game. But when your the 5th lowest franchise, and 2nd lowest NFL team, it may just be some food for thought on where the prices are currently set at your concession stands.
- Stadium: ESPN defines this in 3 categories on this one. Those 3 being: Stadium quality, Fan Promotions and giveaways & a fan friendly environment. WDP touches on the things the Bengals have right now in these areas and that they are working on making it better. To the reality of the situation I would be lying if I said I didn’t love Paul Brown Stadium. But I have to admit there are some upgrades that could be used to make it a better arena. One of the big things it could use is a tribute to history, something like a ring of honor as well as hall of fame area to walk up to. The Bengals aren’t as old as the Yankees, but something similar to “Monument Park” would be fantastic for fans of all ages. And putting it bluntly, the game day promotions and giveaways though need improvement. Just mix up the gifts a little bit more, and have more prizes for the “first # fans” in the stadium. As for fan environment, it’s getting better with Jerkline. All in all, they admitted on this one there’s room for improvement, and there definitely is.
- Players: This one I’m backing WDP 100%. The core roster is overshadowed by people like Chad, and the effort guys like Domata Peko and Andrew Whitworth does fall on deaf ears because they don’t dance in the end zone. There’s a group of likable guys on that roster, and honestly every player that comes to mind is involved with a charity or has helped at some point within the last year. And even those who stick out and are media figures, remember Ochocinco is still the guy who takes random fans on shopping spree’s and fancy dinners. I don’t know how a team with a player on both Offense & Defense have/had TV Shows is the least likable group of players.
- Coaches: I’m not going to get too much into this one. The Bengals parted ways with an Offensive Coordinator that the majority of the fan base wanted removed. They brought in “new blood” with a youthful Jay Gruden, who plans on bringing the team to it’s roots with the West Coast Offense. Then with the hiring of Gruden, the Bengals hire a position coach from one of the most recognized WCO team in the NFL today. WDP is fair to mention that in 2009, Lewis and Zimmer won NFL Coach of the Year and Asst Coach of the Year respectively. The ranking of the coaches reflects the previous staff, not the current with a Jay Gruden who’s offense has yet to play a snap.
- Title Track: WDP: “Finally, regarding the title track: While the team has yet to win a Super Bowl, we are among 14 of the 32 NFL teams to have won two division titles in the last six seasons. Still, we know we have work to do to get back to that level of success” I think that’s the best they really can say on this topic. The question I have is of those 14 teams, how many have won a playoff game in the last 6 years? The Bengals have a long way to go, but if they can hold onto that young defense and for the time being make them the emphasis of the team. This wait for a playoff victory may be a lot shorter then most think.
Again, I have a lot of love for this team. And I will continue to write and root for this team, 122 or not.