Oh, I know, we’ve had our moments. They’ve been few and far between for sure, but we’ve had our moments. Unfortunately, since 1990 the Akili Smiths, Kajana Carters, and David Klinglers have far outnumbered the Carson Palmers. Even before that, for every Anthony Munoz we had 10 John Stofa’s. Yeah, I remember John Stofa. Do you? We’ve had so many unexplainable things happen in Bengal Land that they’re impossible to cover here. I mean, how can Dick LeBeau be a genius in Pittsburgh and a complete bum in Cincy? It defies logic.
But let’s go back . . .
My very first Bengals game was at Nippert Stadium on UC campus. My cousin Greg Cook had been the first round pick of the Bengals, and he immediately replaced the aforementioned Stofa as the starting quarterback. They started spectacularly, winning their first three games. Hell, I was just a kid so I thought they were going to the Super Bowl. I have some great memories from those years, going to most of the games, going to the locker room afterwards, and getting to meet guys like Joe Namath and some dude named O.J. Simpson. Yes, I shook the hand that... well, I won’t go there. At the time my biggest thrill was meeting the quarterback of the Oakland Raiders, Daryle Lamonica. I loved that guy for some reason. Long story short, Greg got hurt in the fourth game against the Chiefs, and although he was named Rookie of the Year, he was never the same. He was out of the league by 1973.
My point is I got off to a great start as a Bengals fan and have stuck with them over the years despite the joke of a franchise they’ve been throughout most of their existence. As I said, we’ve had our moments. The Forrest Gregg years were great, and the 1981 AFC Championship game where the Bengals beat the Chargers 27-7 in -37 degree wind chill weather was unforgettable. The Bengals ended up losing to San Francisco in the Super Bowl, but it was still a helluva year. We lost in the Super Bowl to the Niners again after the ’88 season, but since then it’s been a nightmare. Don’t even bring up ’05. I still see that hit on Carson’s knee in my sleep.
It hasn’t helped that my significant other has been a life-long Steelers fan. She grew up near Youngstown so she’s allowed I suppose. This is a woman who cried with joy when I got her a throwback Jack Lambert jersey a few years ago for Christmas. It’s just frustrating when we get into an argument because she always brings things to a screeching halt by holding up 6 fingers and shaking them in my face. God I hate that because I have absolutely no retort.
But, as I mentioned before, as a Bengals fan I have steadfastly refused to bail on them. I always harbored a secret dread that the minute I did they’d have a season for the ages. There have been years when I’m pretty optimistic, most years though, not so much. But this year, yes, THIS year, I have a hunch. Call me crazy (and I know you will) but I think that 2009 is our year. I first started to get a little excited when I saw the schedule. Yeah, we have the Squeelers twice but it seems like we usually beat them once, right? We play the Ravens twice and we can split with them easily. That Flacco doofus from Delaware is going to crash and burn for sure. The only other team we play twice is the Clowns, and I see us sweeping them because A) They’re the Browns, and B) They suck balls. Other than those teams I’m looking at the Chiefs, Chargers, Raiders, Broncos, Texans, Jets, Lions, Packers, Vikings, and da Bears. Just go through those names and add up the wins. Go ahead, I’ll wait. What’d I tell ya? Hell, I was thinking 10-wins before the draft.
And then . . .
When you take a look at what the Bengals have added in their entirety you have to be excited. Let’s take a look:
- Andre Smith: This is just the guy we needed on the O-Line. Hopefully he’ll anchor the line for years. In addition, he has bigger boobs than Kate Hudson.
- Rey Maualuga: I was scared to death the Squeelers were going to grab him ahead of the Bengals. I don’t care if he’s undisciplined, he’s a headhunter and a lunatic and I like him. Plus, he air-grinded Erin Andrews, so he’s cool with me.
- Laveranues Coles: Character guy, solid all-around receiver. What’s not to like? He’ll give us 70-catches and he’s not a dropper like some guys (clears throat . . . Braylon Edwards).
- Tank Johnson: Yeah, yeah, he’s had some problems, but I’ll take him in a heartbeat because he’s a badass and we need badasses.
- Roy Williams: Hey, they had to make a new horse collar rule because of this cat. That’s good, right?
- Michael Johnson: Anybody remember Ted “The Mad Stork” Hendricks? This could be our Mad Stork. I’m giddy.
- Chase Coffman: LOVE this guy. He was projected as a possible 1st Round pick until he got hurt in his bowl game and couldn’t work out before the draft. I’m predicting great things from him.
- Jonathon Luigi: The big center from Arkansas. He’s 6’-4”, 314 and runs the 40 in under 4.9. He made some huge holes for Darren McFadden and Felix Jones a couple years back.
- Chris Pressley: Hell, I think this guy could make a splash as well. As a FB in Camp Randall Stadium up north I saw him blast many an opposing LB out of their cleats while blocking for P.J. Hill. I like him better than that cat we picked up from BYU, plus he's a good guy.
Here’s the deal. If half these guys play up to their potential the Bengals have a chance to have an amazing turnaround. With the schedule, the draft picks, and the acquisitions there’s a great chance it’s going to be good times in The Jungle this fall once again.
I just read today that Boomer Esiason predicted the ’09 Bengals could be this year’s Arizona Cardinals. And earlier, Carson Palmer stated, "We're going to be good. Really good." Have I mentioned I’m giddy?
Yeah, my name is Dave, I’m a Bengals fan, and I’m damn proud of it. 2009 is going to be our year. I believe it.