The Cincinnati Bengals unveiled their new uniforms to much fanfare. This makeover known by the hashtag “New Stripes” has the fan base excited. But the question remains, can these tigers in fact change their stripes? The uniform change is the second cosmetic announcement in this extreme makeover edition of a Bengals offseason.
The first was the announcement of a Ring of Honor. A much overdue upgrade to an organization that has shown its unwillingness at best, inability at worst, to change with the times of today’s NFL. It took until 2021 to acknowledge in a meaningful public way the team’s past greats.
Something that is otherwise commonplace around the NFL. Also, something that may not have happened if it were not for the pressure of a loyal and rabid fan base.
A whole museum! However, despite having a Hall of Fame museum in their stadium, it does not soothe Reds fans’ angst when the team is not winning. It, much like new stripes, is fashionable to have but does not contribute to success on the field. Another change the team should seriously consider is an indoor practice facility.
Cincinnati remains the northernmost city with an NFL franchise that does not have one. Yes, one more cosmetic change the team should seriously consider but one that could pay dividends on the field. But even that is not a guarantee.
Bengals fans know when it comes to attracting free agents, it can look like the team is not willing to do everything it takes to make Cincinnati more of an attractive landing spot. If this year’s free agency period has shown us anything, when it comes to attracting whales, the team needs every advantage they can get.
Superficial changes must not become hollow devices, no matter how fashionable they are. The organization must multitask. Yes, of course, do all the things that will help the team look attractive. But identify and change whatever it is that prevents the team from competing year in and year out on the field as well.
At least give a modicum of hope to a downtrodden fan base of a franchise that is suffering from the longest playoff win drought in the NFL, 30 years. But who’s counting? That is a more fundamental problem that gets to the DNA, the real stripes of the organization.
A much more unpleasant topic than “How cool are those Bengals jerseys” for sure. New uniforms, a Ring of Honor, or a practice bubble will not change the quality of the on-field product. The Bengals can and must find a way to truly change their ways to get positive results on the field. If not, the cosmetic stripe changing will be for not.