So I was surfing the interweb this evening, and I came across the following article:
Reading through, it makes the statement that the Cowboys have the most loyal fans in the country, along with the Jets. Honestly, I am not surprised one bit. Neither team has performed well in the past few years, but they always sell out the seats, and you still have a lot of bandwagon fans for those teams. I wasn't all that surprised by the showing the Colts, Bears, and Patriots put forth, either. Even in down years, those teams have fans that will snatch up tickets like a college freshman snatching up free beer.
Going through the math, whoever came up with this system of ranking fan loyalty tried to take all things into consideration: how a team has performed on the field, what team revenues are like, how they're doing in ticket sales, what the economy of the surrounding area is like, etc.
So, as to be expected, I quickly skimmed through the list to find our beloved Bengals. To be quite frank, I very much expected to find us down in the mid to low 20's. Why? Well, look at who we pull for. We are a small market team that has never been consistently good until the past couple of years, and still (technically) crawling out of a decade long doldrums of uther patheticness. Each and every week we're waiting with baited breath to see if we're going to make the level needed to avoid having a blackout. When I visit my parents in Ohio, I always try to stock up on Bengals gear. Even in the Dayton area, I can find just as much (and, sadly, sometimes more) Browns and Steelers crap merchandise as I can Bengals. Meanwhile, there's tons upon tons of Reds and Buckeyes gear lining the shelves and racks. Its not long ago that the group/website "WhoDeyRevolution" was alive and well, and buying billboards in downtown Cincy. In fact, they're still around today (their website last had a post in March, though). When Bengals fans were tormenting our franchise QB so horribly that he quit. Hell... I still love to play Ryan Parker's "Bengals Bandwagon" (I just had to start it up again to listen to) that hit in 2005 when the bandwagon really kicked up, only to fall apart the next year.
Holy crap, we managed to show up at 19. While that's in the bottom half, that's still in the middle of the pack. We're beating out the legendary fan base that is Raider Nation (though their glory days were a long time ago now). We've beaten out the 49ers, who have multiple SuperBowl championships, and even made it to the show last season. We're in company with the Eagles, who always have (seemingly) strong and vocal fans. I am totally and utterly surprised that we managed to rank that high.
But, on the flip side, we're right next to the Browns - the team that has sucked since they came back. The team who once had the loyal "Dawg Pound" following that was gutted when its original team left town. Teams that I expected to rank high landed in the middle of the pack as well (namely the Packers and Redskins). I don't see them as having much in the way of fan loyalty anymore. Living near Charlotte, NC, I can't help but see the strong loyalty for the Panthers year in and year out, irregardless of how that team does.
I would have loved to seen this same analysis 10 years ago, or even 15 years ago when we were in the middle of the Lost Decade. Maybe I just haven't realized how far our fan base has clawed its way out of the basement. How the Bengals faithful have thrown away the grocery bags that used to live on our heads. Maybe most of us Bengals faithful who have been down for so long that we're skeptical of anything positive about our team need to wake up to the fact that the dark days are over, even if M F'n B is still running things.
Maybe I just didn't give Bengal Nation as a whole enough credit.
So... Where do YOU rank the Bengals in fan loyalty? This is when we can look in the mirror at ourselves as fans and decide if we are truly loyal - as a whole - to the Cincinnati Bengals NFL franchise.