Beleaguered Bengals to disappoint again

The past couple of weeks certainly have been an interesting and exciting time for NFL fans.
First, a nearly five-month lockout that threatened the very existence of the 2011 season came to end in late July. And while those on the players’ and owners’ sides may have claimed victory, in the end I think it’s safe to say that the fans were just happy that professional football was going to be back this fall.
The second exciting event has been occurring over the last few days as a free agent frenzy has broken loose with big-name players arriving in new cities, with the biggest move seeing Pro Bowl defensive back Nnamdi Asomugha leaving the Oakland Raiders and joining the Philadelphia Eagles.
While the hopes of their team reaching the Super Bowl is high among most fans heading into the start of the season next month, there is one team that most certainly has no hope of making any noise this year—and that’s leaving fans like me with a certain degree of despair.
The team in question is the Cincinnati Bengals, and being a supporter of them this season will be the equivalent of spending 16 weeks of repeatedly having your wisdom teeth ripped out.
While the Bengals have never had a sniff of lifting the Vince Lombardi Trophy since their last appearance in the championship game back in 1989, the team did win two AFC North division titles in 2005 and 2009, which has given their fans a little bit of hope after years of mediocrity.
After a 4-12 record a season ago, it seemed like the rebuilding process was back on again in Cincinnati. But instead, the off-season turned into an out-of-control train wreck.
Despite a losing record, head coach Marvin Lewis was re-signed for a ninth season. The team then traded out-spoken but productive wide receiver Chad Ochocinco once the lockout was over.
However, the most dramatic situation is continuing to play out with long-time Bengals’ quarterback Carson Palmer, who has threatened to retire from the NFL at the age of 31 if he isn’t traded from the team.
?So far, the team has been calling his bluff and decided to let him sit out the start of the season, with unheralded rookie Andy Dalton set to lead the way on offense.
Normally, a fresh start may lead to some optimism for fans of a franchise. But when a situation is as bad as the Bengals’ currently is, there certainly is anything but that going around right now.
I mean, when the usual laughing stocks of the NFL in the Detroit Lions are predicted to have a better season than you, you know you’re in problems.
The old saying goes: “You can’t tell the players without a program” certainly rings true for this year’s Bengals because even as a fan, I had to consult Wikipedia to name most of the roster.
And speaking of those Detroit Lions, I wouldn’t be surprised if the Bengals went 0-16 this season—becoming just the second team in NFL history to be that bad.
So while every fan of the 31 other teams in the league have their goals set high for the season, I and other Bengals’ fans seemingly are left with nothing, and quite frankly it is no fun at all.
I have mentioned before in this space that being a fan of a bad team sometimes can be fun. But in the case of the Bengals and being a supporter of theirs, there is certainly no hope on the horizon at the moment.
Sure, the playoff appearances were nice, but the team hasn’t even won a playoff game since I was running around diapers.
And as another depressing NFL fall for me draws closers and closer, I’m starting to understand how those long-suffering fans of teams like the Lions and baseball’s Pittsburgh Pirates sort of dread the time of the year when the season is about to begin—and they already know their team has nope of winning.

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