The Cincinnati Bengals will be entering their 50th season of NFL play. This will be either a year of new beginnings or warmed over mediocrity.
When the number 50 is included in things, the meaning is special. Married couples eagerly anticipate their “golden” anniversary. In 2016, Super Bowl L was a showcase for Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos. This year, the Cincinnati Bengals have a chance to make things special. The Bengals will be celebrating 50 years as a franchise. Things could either turn around for the better or it could be the same mediocrity warmed over. Hopefully, fans will be treated to a year that signals a new mindset for the future.
Bengals fans are a diehard bunch that just keep coming back for more. Gotta pump the brakes here. Real fans will take the abuse and go the whole nine rounds. Bandwagon believers will always find an excuse to toss negativity around. That’s not to say that real fans don’t get fed up and demand Mike Brown’s head on a charger (doth thee likest mine own medieval twang?). Seriously, fifty years is a long time to be in business without getting it done. In other words, it’s time the Bengals produced. Two Super Bowls since 1968 is really pushing the patience button with fans.
Before I go on and risk being labeled a fair weather fan, my credentials are solid. The Bengals have been my stomach ache of choice since 1975. I can remember the comparisons between Paul Brown and Tom Landry. Both men walked the sidelines looking like undercover cops ready to call Inspector Columbo for advice. My appreciation of the 1981 and ‘87 teams is unending. But, enough is enough. It’s time to hoist a Lombardi.
Close Isn’t Gonna Get It…Well, Maybe
There’s been another exodus of talent. This time, the numbers were much larger. But, the Big Three composed of Andrew Whitworth, Kevin Zeitler and Rex Burkhead will tell the story. Of course, the Bengals are more than a few players leaving. Yet, when Reggie Nelson, Marvin Jones and Mohamed Sanu left..the same attitude was in place. The result was a 6-9-1 fiasco that tainted fan’s view of the franchise. The promise was broken. It may have been one that fans made on their own…but it wasn’t honored. After a 12-4 year and narrow loss to the Steelers, things never came together.
The 2016 version of the Bengals was supposed to deliver the goods. Players wanted to be a part of the program because it was so close to winning it all. Once again, no enchilada.
Truthfully, it wasn’t about getting all the way to the Super Bowl. It’s about utilizing the talent and getting a couple of playoff wins. It has to start somewhere. Fans are at the point of no return. Something has to transpire. Yes, I’ll be that writer who always says it. This team has too much talent to constantly come up short. It’s time for draft choices to get playing time and high-priced vets to do what they get paid for.
This may not be the Super Bowl year but it can signal a new beginning. The Bengals have to get serious about producing in the postseason. Fans are beyond tired. Now, it’s time for the players and coaches to get tired of being tired.