Meet Chris. Chris is a Bengals season ticket holder who wore a black tee-shirt with white lettering that read, "Fire Bratkowski" in capital letters. Brilliant, right? The idea of firing Bratkowski isn't some unbelievable science garbage like the Day After Tomorrow in which a process that takes thousands of years, happens in two days. It's been a gradual frustration dating back to 2008, if not as far back to 2007. Bratkowski's offense has finished outside the top-20 in 2008 and 2009 and currently sitting 22nd in the league. Yet, the offense also finished in the top-ten from 2005-2007. Would it be fair that one could argue that the level of talent is vastly different, with a more capable offense (let's look at the offensive line alone) when the team ranked inside the top-10? Absolutely.
However, this is a results-oriented business and with the offense, speaking frankly, business just sucks. There are many reasons with the team's struggles. And one of those is simply having the same offensive coordinator for nine seasons; which is completely unheard of in today's NFL. Teams tend to catch on to the same system. It was one of the reasons why the Bengals were so successful last year, with a completely revamped offensive philosophy. Unfortunately, the team went back to the 2007 version, starting out slow, forced to airing it out because the team is forced to play from behind.
So there's no question that Bengals fans are frustrated. Apparently Chris, and his father Tom, have worn this shirt several times over the past three years as a way to "get fid of our frustration." As Paul Daugherty wrote:
Until two Sundays ago.
That’s when three people employed by Tenable, the Bengals security outfit, decided that Chris and his tee shirt had to go. According to Chris, Tom and four witnesses from Section 122 with whom I spoke, the exchange went like this:
Security: "You're outta here."
Security: "You've been warned three times."
Chris: "What law did I break?"
Security: "I’m having you arrested."
Tom: "Come on, Chris, let’s just go."
A man with power that's so eager to pound his man-package at anyone who shows the slightest disobedience, all of which only exists in his mind? Unheard of. Nick Whitecotton, Tenable's Directory of Security Operations, said that the issue wasn't the message on the shirt (as evident that he's worn the shirt several times before). Rather the issue "was waving it in people’s faces," Whitecotton said, "and he was warned the next time (he waved the tee) he would have to go."
However, no one interviewed for Daugherty's piece confirmed Whitecotton's assertion that Chris was obnoxious, or even drunk. Lance McAlister had an email exchange with Chris.
"The Bengals apologized (without completely saying Tenable was wrong because of the he said/he said nature of the story) The Bengals told me I could display the shirt as long as it was not obscene (and confirmed Fire Bratkowski was not obscene) and I did not threaten people or wave it in people's faces or appear unsafe.If someone had come to my section and verbally warned me not to display the shirt and told me why I would have gladly put the shirt away. Instead they sent a three person Blue Coat search party looking for the shirt. Once found they grabbed the shirt told me I had been warned three times and asked to leave (but later the guard returned the shirt remarkably)."
Geoff Hobson asked Bratkowski about the shirt:
"I was raised around the profession, I know that goes with the territory when you're not having the success you expect," he said. "I would sit in the stands and listen and hear the fans. You learn to deal with that. It goes with choosing this profession. You have to be (thick skinned). You just have to go do your job, come to work every day and do it the best that you can."
Some would say that this is the same pep talk that children receive getting their trophy for playing with effort, even though they finished in last place. "You finished in dead last place. You were the worst of every team that played and you should be totally ashamed of yourselves. However. Since life's lessons are that everyone always wins, no matter what, here's your trophy because man, you gave a lot of effort and winning is so secondary."