After watching the 1989 Superbowl as a kindergartner with no clue why the game was even called "football", I proceeded my fanhood with high aspirations of promising guys like Dave Shula, the other stellar Dave (Klingler), "Big Daddy" Wilkinson, "Pinata" Carter, Bruce Coslet, "Shake n Blake" -- and being let down EACH AND EVERY year, which led me to one certainty in life; this is Bengals football. My best friend was even a Steelers fan (as well as a Michigan fan) who'd annually poke fun at my Bengals. Disgusting, I know. Yet every year, I was sure we'd rebound the following season and make the playoffs.
While attending College, only an hour away from Cincinnati, I quickly discovered how difficult it was to even find a TV with the Bengals game on - and myself being the lone Bengals fan watching, amidst a shocking plethora of Steelers and Browns fans.
Eventually of course, our squirrel found a nut and come late 2005, Bengals fans were suddenly popping up out of the woodwork, all over campus. "Carson Palmer! Chad Johnson! Ummm.... who else is on our team again?" Not that I really minded at that point - I had backup against the contentious Steelers fans. Though, after that brutal loss when a Steelers fan, draped in his terrible towel, mocked me for coming out of the closet as a Bengals fan, I somehow felt very offended. And subsequently following the loss, seeing all my fellow Bengals fans disappear, I additionally felt betrayed by them. Almost how I imagine William Wallace must have felt when he discovered Robert the Bruce had given up on his Scottish countrymen and joined ranks with the British.
Being a casual Reds and Muskies fan myself, I'm certainly not encouraging bitterness between true Bengals fans and casual ones - just wanted to vent a little frustration with the oncoming 'bandwagon' Bengals fans we'll be associated with. Honestly, I can't even stand talking football with most "Bengals fans", since they know so little about our team. It's like discussing politics with a 10 year old.
But as I continue to watch our beloved Bengals at the local sports bar in Georgia - while explaining to the inevitable handful of "Bengals fans" who will soon start showing up, why we're suddenly better without Palmer and Chad - I'll know where I can go to find refuge in discussing football with serious Bengal fans (even if we
sometimes often disagree).
Here's to you, CincyJungle....