It’s not easy being a Bengals fan. Sadness, disappointment, and apathy are ever-present emotions for those of us who not only wear, but bleed orange and black. Every new season brings new hope and renewed faith, but we have been constantly rewarded with failure. The road Cincinnati fans have traveled over the past 20+ years is one littered with losses, unfulfilled dreams, and broken promises. So, what do we do? Do we abandon all hope and resign ourselves to a future without a chance? Impossible. Do we surrender, and sell our fandom, and our souls, to root for a team, a rival even? Unfathomable. What is a loyal member of the who dey nation to do?
Being a fan of any team is rarely a conscious decision. We’re fans before we see our first game, before we know a single player’s name, before we’re even born. My father was a Bengals fan, watching Ken Anderson, Isaac Curtis, and Ken Riley on the prowl before I was even a though. I began watching games before I was even self-aware, and continued as I passed through adolescence. By the time I was old enough to enjoy watching football, I realized I was rooting for the Bengals and didn’t even know why. It was just the way it was. Guys named Boomer, Ickey, and Fulcher were my heroes, guys I emulated at any given opportunity. The 1989 Super Bowl loss the San Francisco 49ers came when I was 11 years old, and the heartbreak lingers to this day. I cried as Joe Montana stomped on my chest and ripped the soul right out of me. I wanted revenge, and assumed that I would see retribution sooner rather than later. Who could foresee what would happen?