Obviously there has been a lot of heated debate around here and in the media lately about the state of the Bengals. Three straight postseason appearances, three straight losses. A head coach who in 11 years has turned a moribund franchise into a contender but never gotten close to getting over the hump. A quarterback with limited potential whose ceiling, while statistically impressive, may have been reached and fall short of where it needs to be. I don't want to actually continue those debates here.
But in these discussions I have seen some very familiar and very interesting things come up again and again. I have been a Bengals fan for over 30 years. I remember the 90's very well. They were embarrassing, clearly. But, for some people, I wonder just WHAT effect the 90's had. They seem to still weigh so heavily on any discussion about this team that I'm curious if they actually psychologically scarred a large segment of this fanbase.
And so, in my amateur armchair psychologist style, I propose a thought experiment for Bengals fans. You don't have to discuss it, you don't have to post what you've come up with, it's just a chance to sit quietly with yourself for a few moments and think in a rational way about some things. Here it goes:
Standing in front of you are two doors. Door 1 and...wait for it...Door 2.
Door 1 leads to a Bengals team that is guaranteed to win at least 10 regular season games every single year without fail, but will never win a championship. Ever.
Door 2 leads to a less clear fate. Behind this door is an enigma of a team. The moment you open the door, they instantly become one of two things. Either a guaranteed Super Bowl winner, or a hapless bungling embarrassment with no chance of recovery.The odds of them becoming the Super Bowl winner are 10%.
Which door do you choose? If you choose door 1, you will be guaranteed a lot of winning football. A lot of fun Sundays. No one will ever laugh at you for wearing your Bengals gear. But you'll never experience the thrill of a championship...Ever. If you choose door 2, you could instantly be transported back to the 90's. Sundays will be a misery. The Bungles headlines will return. But then again, there's a CHANCE you might get to live your ultimate Bengals dream. Finally. Tough call. Maybe a 10% chance isn't worth it to you - those are admittedly pretty long odds. So what does the number have to be? 20? 30? 50? 90? HOW MUCH RISK would you willing to take? If I've constructed this thing the right way, and I almost certainly have not because I am a total hack, then that number should come close to giving you an idea of how badly the 90's scarred you as a Bengals fan, or maybe at least what kind of sports fan you are deep down inside. It might tell you a little something about why you follow sports, what it is you enjoy about them.