|The fierce Bengal tiger of days gone by|
It's a cruel twist of fate for a football nut like me to be stuck with what is probably the worst football team in the history of the game in my hometown. That's right, here in Cincinnati we have the misfortune of rooting for the Bengals.
I've loved football since I was a young girl and my sister and I used to watch the Bengals' games with my dad. My dad even made up his own fight song, although the only lyrics were "Cincinnati Bengals, we're all for you!" It was an easy one to learn, and we all sang it as we looked forward to Sunday afternoons. That was a very long time ago.
I keep this old Boomer Esiason jersey as a reminder of the time when the Bengals were fun to watch. Those days also mark the last time the Bengals won a playoff game. To give you an idea of how much water has gone under the bridge since those glory days, George Bush Sr. was the U.S. president at the time of that victory.
Since then, the Bengals have been an embarrassment of ineptitude and a laughing stock of the NFL. On the rare times they manage to put together a winning season and give the fans something to enjoy, they always quickly revert to their typical incompetence. It's their comfort zone.
Last year, on the heels of a particularly dismal season, I swore I was done with the team once and for all. But then some enthusiastic and talented rookies came on board, and I couldn't resist jumping in again. I am like Michael Corleone when it comes to the Bengals. "Just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in."
And so it goes every year. When the Bengals had a brief resurgence in 2005 and won their division, I bought all kinds of goodies at the Bengals Pro Shop and proudly wore my orange and black. When everything fell apart so completely soon after, I vowed to never return to the Pro Shop until the Bengals won the Super Bowl. I have stuck to that promise, and I have total confidence that I will never again set foot in the Pro Shop.
And yet come fall, like Charlie Brown running to kick the football, I will be rooting for the Bengals again and hoping that, this time, things really will be different. I have to believe that one of these days I can sing "Cincinnati Bengals, we're all for you!" again and actually mean it.
Hope springs eternal in the sports fan's breast.