One of the sad truths about being a Bengals fan is that one has to face the fact that this team doesn't have the decorated history that many other NFL franchises enjoy. And by that, I mean that the team has zero Super Bowls to their name and only two AFC titles to their name in the 45 years that they have existed. Still, that's not to say that the team had their moments in the sun.
The year 1973 officially kicked off the era of Ken Anderson working with the incomparable Paul Brown. There was a period through 1976 where the Bengals made the playoffs two times in those four years and had a 38-18 record, though they went 0-2 in those playoff appearances. Though many of us don't remember this era of football, it was a great one led by Brown.
There was another great era of Ken Anderson football in the early 1980s. Anderson was the source of fan ire, but that quickly changed when he had an MVP season in 1981 and led the Bengals to the Super Bowl. Though the 1982 season was shortened by a players strike, the Bengals followed the Super Bowl run with another playoff appearance. Some claim that that 1981 squad was the best in team history.
However, it was the other squad in the 1980s that gets the most attention and notoriety. The Boomer Esiason-Sam Wyche era was one of the most successful in franchise history. Though the had ten wins in 1986, the team missed the playoffs. But, it was the amazing season in 1988 that put the team on the national spotlight, thanks to an appearance in one of the most memorable Super Bowls in NFL history. Another appearance and playoff victory in 1990 marked the last time that the team had any postseason success.
After a long dry spell, the Bengals finally hit their stride in the Carson Palmer-Marvin Lewis era. For the first time in 15 years, the Bengals dominated their way to the playoffs in 2005. An unfortunate injury to Palmer against the Steelers abruptly ended a promising run. After barely missing out of the playoffs in 2006 and 2007, the team made another surprising run to the playoffs in 2009 after their stint on "Hard Knocks". Shortly after that, Palmer left the Bengals in a trade with the Raiders and this era ended.
Now, a new and another surprisingly productive era has been ushered in. A bunch of young guns led by Andy Dalton and A.J. Green on offense, and Geno Atkins and Leon Hall on defense gave the Bengals their first back-to-back playoff appearances since those 1981 and 1982 seasons. Expectations are high for 2013 and it seems as if this team has the possibility of sustained success.
So, if you had to choose one of these eras to be brought back, or stay as is if you like the current era, which one would you choose? Will you rock bell-bottoms and watch some Kenny Anderson football? How about take the DeLorean back to the 1980s and watch some exciting offense? Are you still bitter with Palmer, or did you truly enjoy what he did for this team in his time here? Or, are you enjoying the current ride that the Bengals have us on with the bright future?