National pundits continue to take shots at Bengals and owner Mike Brown

AFC Championship - Cincinnati Bengals v Kansas City Chiefs
AFC Championship - Cincinnati Bengals v Kansas City Chiefs / Jamie Squire/GettyImages

Despite the recent success of the Cincinnati Bengals, the stigma of Mike Brown being a cheap owner is not going away. 

Recently, the NFLPA released a report card for each franchise and how its players view everything. This includes grades for training staff, training room, strength staff, weight room, nutrition, treatment of families, travel, and the locker room. This could only mean one thing… time to bang the 'Bengals are cheap’ drum.

That particular note was sung by Shannon Sharpe and Skip Bayless on their show, Undisputed. Mr. Sharpe exclaimed, “Trey Hendrickson, he knew Mike Brown was cheap. He knew the history of the Cincinnati Bengals…he signed with the cheap Bengals!” He would later say, “What do you want me to make of this Skip? Everybody knows the Bengals are cheap.”

Skip chimed in on the Bengals by stating, “The Cincinnati stuff didn’t surprise me one bit because that’s who they’ve always been. A mom’s and pop’s shop, operation.”

Bengals continue to get dunked on for being cheap

Sharpe and Bayless eventually acknowledged that the Arizona Cardinals report card is the worst in their opinion, but also side-swiped the Bengals in doing so. Bayless noted, “It sounds like the Arizona Cardinal are even cheaper and more poorly run than the Cincinnati Bengals.”

Sharpe responded with, “And that’s saying something!”

So even talking about the team with the worst report card in their opinion, they must contextualize it against the Bengals, for whatever reason. 

When things like this show up, no one misses an opportunity to take a swipe at the Bengals. 

For years, the big issue was getting an indoor practice facility. Pat McAfee did not miss this opportunity to, once again, point out that he publicly led the proverbial charge to get a practice bubble for the team when discussing the NFLPA’s report card. Perhaps we should thank Mr. McAfee for getting that done. Thank you, Pat! 

However, things have changed in Cincinnati. Yet, as Bengals fans know, outside of the 513, the perception remains, “It’s the Bungles.”

Why should the national media focus on the low NFLPA report cards that are the Jacksonville Jaguars, Los Angeles Chargers, Super Bowl Champions Kansas City Chiefs, or the dumpster-fire Arizona Cardinals or Washington Commanders without having to mention the Cincinnati Bengals?

Is anyone concerned for the Pittsburgh Steelers players? Their legendary, historical franchise was only graded two spots above the Bengals. Yet, none of the national talking heads talked about the Steelers the same way they spoke about the Bengals, despite being so closely graded to the poor Bengals in this report card.

Also, don’t the players for such a storied franchise deserve much better working conditions than the lowly Cincinnati Bengals? After all, the Cincinnati near the bottom is, according to Bayless, no surprise. The Steelers being so close to the Bengals should be discussed more. They are the epitome of how a franchise should be run. Or so we’ve been told. 

Perhaps that would be too difficult when all the talking heads have to do is continue to harp on how much of a “mom’s and pop’s operation” the Cincinnati Bengals are.

Could you imagine if Cincinnati ranked in the bottom five on this list? What if they ranked last? That would have been the perfect script for everyone to talk about. Or, perhaps at this particular moment in time, the Washington Commanders being at the bottom is just what the scriptwriters intended. 

It should be noted that the five highest-graded teams, Cowboys, Raiders, Dolphins, Vikings, and Ravens are not exactly the bastions of recent success and consistency on the field that one would think they should be based on this type of ranking. 

However, none of this absolves the Bengals of their shortcomings. They have grades of F, F-, and D- in the treatment of families, nutrition, and training room categories, respectively.

The organization should absolutely look into improving those areas. Each team in the bottom half of the list should contact the Vikings and ask what they are doing, how they are doing it, and how much it costs to implement. Then the teams that rank low should figure out how to improve conditions in a way that will work for them and the players. 

Nevertheless, it would appear that no matter how successful the Bengals are on the field or which team du jour is below them in these sorts of rankings, for most outside of Cincinnati, the Bengals can only change their stripes but so much. Even though from the looks of this report card, there are a few teams who look more penny-pinching in this report, the Bengals will likely remain the face of the “cheap” organization in the eyes of the national pundits. 

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Hopefully, the "cheap" stigma will eventually change for the Bengals organization. But do not count on that happening anytime soon, despite their on-field success.

We love the Bengals 3,000. Who Dey?!