The Cincinnati Bengals have been on the receiving end of some harsh criticism by the national media over the last few weeks. Though difficult to hear, the Bengals should use this as motivation to prove these naysayers are wrong, as they enter this new era.
If you were a fan of the Cincinnati Bengals throughout the ’90s, you probably remember a certain popular term used to describe the football team of Cincinnati, the “Bungles”. As a die-hard fan of the orange and black, nothing got under your skin more than that dreadful term. To this day my blood boils every time I hear it.
Then came Marvin Lewis, and things started to change. There were bumps and bruises along the way and even though Lewis never quite got Cincinnati to the promised land, he did make the Bengals respectable, at least to a degree. Some people might argue that, but the Bengals had come a long way under his tenure from where they had previously been.
However, the team struggled in Lewis’s last couple of seasons, prompting the hiring of Zac Taylor. In his first season, Taylor was only able to finish with a 2-14 record, earning Cincinnati the first pick of the 2020 NFL Draft. Of course with the first pick comes the chance for Joe Burrow and we all know the story from there.
Now, here comes the national media pushing their “the Bengals will ruin Burrow” agenda. Some say he should refuse to go to Cincinnati while others say they have to many holes to fill and should trade the pick. However, I’m not here to talk about personnel decisions, at least not today.
Today is about perception. In particular, when it comes to the Bengals. Have the Bengals struggled over the past 4 seasons? Yes, that cannot be argued. Even though the Bengals have been a pretty solid overall franchise over the past 15 years, it is these past 4 that people remember.
Now, after many years the “bungles” perception has reared its ugly head again. It may not seem fair, however, that is the narrative the national media has chosen to push. Fans have been vocal in their disapproval of this narrative and one must hope that those within the organization feel the same way. Because they are the ones that can do something about it.
Fans can defend the team till the bitter end, however, only the organization and team itself can change the narrative. National media wants to believe the “bungles” are back. The Bengals need to prove to them that they will have no part of it. Let this be the fuel that leads to greatness, the greatness that ‘they’ say the Bengals cannot achieve and do not deserve.
Look at Tom Brady. He was the 199th pick in the 6th round of the 2000 NFL Draft and he never forgot it. Despite all the MVPs and after all the championships, he has always remembered how many teams passed on him and it fueled his career. Brady’s best attribute despite all his greatness is probably his desire to prove everyone wrong.
Even the Patriots as a team have always been able to take on this ‘us against the world’ approach and it has carried them into legendary status. The Bengals should take on that same mentality as they enter this new era.
After all, at one time the Patriots were perceived to be the same thing the Cincinnati Bengals are now. Just a lowly franchise, unworthy of respect and incapable of winning. The Patriots have taught us that it doesn’t have to be that way.
If the national media wants to use the Bengals for a story, then the Bengals need to give them a story. Give them a story of how greatness was achieved in Cincinnati. The place where everyone said it couldn’t be done.