The Cincinnati Enquirer's Joe Reedy dropped a few disconcerting statistics in a recent column.
The Cincinnati Bengals have not won a playoff game since 1991, currently the longest drought in the NFL. Every other team has won a postseason game in that time. The Bills, Lions, Browns...Every. Single. One.
The team has not reached the postseason in back-to-back seasons since 1982. Every one of the 27 other teams in existence in 1982, as well as the expansioned Baltimore Ravens and Jacksonville Jaguars, have made back-to-back postseason appearances in that time. And even Cincinnati's accomplishment in 1982 isn't without an asterisk as that season was strike shortened. The franchise has never reached the postseason in back-to-back full seasons.
It's understandable why the team is frequently mentioned in discussions of "Worst Franchise in sports". The evidence is overwhelming. Even if Dalton and the boys can manage to find the postseason again in 2012/2013, will that undo the reputation built up by 40+ years of futility?
Well, it wouldn't hurt.
The Indianapolis Colts were a lousy franchise after leaving Baltimore in 1983. In their first 14 years, they managed only three playoff appearances and never more than nine regular season wins. But with the arrival of Peyton Manning and the subsequent year after year success, the franchise's reputation completely transformed. Suddenly, they were known as a dominant force. But just as easy as the teams image changed from negative to positive, it changed right back to negative with the Peyton-less 2011 season.
It's a "what have you done lately" situation, and the Cincinnati Bengals are certainly off to a good start. A playoff appearance this upcoming season would be huge for the present squad moving forward, but even more importantly, it would be huge for the franchise's entire image. Eventually, success cannot be ignored.