In a passage titled, The Literary Shipyard, Mark Twain describes his writing process as a gas-tank that over time runs dry. He wrote that he always had unfinished works lurking somewhere like half-built ships awaiting their completion. When the tank ran dry on whichever novel he was writing, he would dock it with the others and find renewed interest in something else. Sometimes he would get around to finishing a few, I'm sure you've read one or two of them, but not always.
While I have nowhere near the necessary skill nor bravado to ever dream of comparing myself to the masterful Mr. Twain, I share his sentiments on dry gas tanks and old boats. I too have stories yearning to be told, but they are victims of my Bengal distraction. It wouldn't be fair to starve them outright until their whole concepts are forgotten, and to keep that from happening, the Bengals are out.
It will be a difficult subject matter to ignore. Because it has dominated so much of my attention for so long, it will take time to clear away some of that mental space, but it will never go away entirely. They are a morbid curiosity, a train wreck I cannot turn away from. Every time they release any information, I get even crazier than the time before and allow my stress-levels to rise. They certainly know how to get my goat. Well, no more, my friends. Rather than continue to spew hot-blooded hatred across the page at their expense, I choose cold indifference and leave it blank instead. In my opinion, a reader can only take so much negativity before being turned off by the writer entirely, and my mama always taught me that if you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all. Mama is always right.
That isn't to say you should stop reading about them though. You, the reader, are the only reason I ever carried on for all these years. If any credit is to be tossed around for the success of a blog, it is tossed to you. Besides, there are some terrific Bengal writers that need your readership to survive in their craft. If your interest level remains in the black and you're still excited for the local football team, then keep on brother, but as for me, my conscience won't at the moment allow me to take another step in that fruitless direction. There are bigger, and tastier fish to fry.
Still, this decision does come with a grain of regret. I promised you a thorough review of the season, where, upon completion, I would surmise a researched reason for the crappy year we all sat though during 2010. I like finishing these kinds of endeavors as painful as they might be, but this one will be docked as half-assed and abandoned. I'm sorry. Yet, as a feeble attempt to placate you, the loyal reader, here is a summarized conclusion on the matter:
The Bengals were doomed when they signed Terrell Owens. At the time, it looked like a splendid idea, but every tool has to be used the right way to achieve maximum efficiency, and TO was not a tool used well. As a result, every player on offense—including TO himself—didn't fully understand his role or function to the team and struggled to find a cohesive identity with each other. The season before, everything went well until Chris Henry broke his arm, and it was assumed offensive coordinator, Bob Bratkowski, would return to that style of play. TO could have taken the place of Henry and everything could have moved along swimmingly, but Bratkowski changed the entire scheme with the new superstar in training camp and everything went to shit.
Cincinnati trudged along this way, steadfast in their ineffective approach. Games were lost and the playoffs quickly floated out of reach. The offense was a sputtering nightmare which made the defense worse. Players started questioning their coaches to the media. A 10-game losing streak added a new and prominent scar to the already slashed and burned facade of the franchise.
Once the season finally ended, team ownership explained to the public that they liked their old-world business model and that they had no intentions to make any changes. The fan base responded with a frothing crescendo of spectacular fury toward Mike Brown, threatening to turn their backs altogether on him and his toy football team. Brown sacrificed his long-time scapegoat Bratkowski to the unruly mob as a gesture of his benevolence and the resistance did indeed quiet down some.
That summary demonstrates a flow-chart of blame for last season—as well as a few more jabs to the old man on my way out.
It's TO's fault for signing with the Bengals. Even though it was consistently reported that TO worked hard and was a good teammate to everyone present all season long, simply having him there negatively affected the way the rest of the offense was used.
Next to blame is, of course, Bratkowski for force-feeding the ball to TO and even Chad Ochocinco. I think it's safe to say that Brat thought a lot of TO and his abilities—he was drinking the kool-aid, as the kids say. Third-and-anything? Throw it up to TO. The result was 81 having a lot of yards and the team having a lot of losses. That particular offense was a promising one gone bad.
And, finally, the man who employs them all, Mike Brown. There's no need to further belabor the point that he sucks—feel free to page through any previous ramblings about him for that—but it can't hurt to point out once more that greed and personal villainy aside, his team has been the laughing stock of American professional sports since the day he took over. Everything under his umbrella of control—no matter how lucrative its potential—is likely to be wasted and mismanaged. Before any of us murmured the words "Super Bowl", we should have first recalled who was in charge of getting us there. A poor assumption on our behalf, I guess.
So there you have it. A three-part interconnected answer. In all honesty, there was no reason to look for any others when the right one was staring right at us the whole time. The good news, I suppose, is that two of the three men blamed here are gone. The bad, of course, is that the most important of the three remains in his seat of power.
That is why, after 300 postings, I am hanging it up for awhile. It's all so bleak and ridiculous now; it's like sharing my opinions on support-group meetings for alcoholic clowns. There are many great and majestic interests in this world worth exploring and it's about time I get around to a few. Farewell, my striped brethren. May the tides turn soon.