The anticipation of going to a home playoff game was crazy.... I couldn't go asleep the night before and it seemed like I was waking up every hour or so. I couldn't tell you how many times I prepared for this game mentally or how many different outfit combinations I tried. As the sun came up and we got ready to head down to the stadium, I had our first playoff victory running through my mind... it was awesome. Probably one of the better feelings I have had about this team in a long while....
So we pull into one of the lots close to the stadium, well I should say within walking distance to the stadium. Got our group together, set up covering, pulled out the portable grill, readied the food and of course got the beer tops popping. It didn't take long before we had several chilled, alcohol beverages downed and the chili and dogs cooking... as we downed a few more beers, we saw a guy with his bicycle with a small storage cart pull up to a garbage can on the opposite side of the lot.
The guy went head first into the garbage can and dug through the garbage until he got every single can he could get.... if that wasn't enough he cycled his was down toward where we set up camp and politely asked for our cans. We gave them all to him.... he took the cans, flattened them with his worn out boots, tossed the cans into his storage cart and thanked us. Before he headed off, one of the guys I had tailed gated with told him to cycle back in a few hours and we would leave out the rest of the cans we intended to drink... the guy who was collecting the cans nodded and off he went for more cans.
As the game neared, we packed up, left our remaining cans out and headed towards the stadium. It was an awesome feeling... just a sea of orange and black heading into the stadium... with echos of "WHODEYS" all around... I maybe saw 10 or San Diego fans on my way to the stadium. As we got through security and on our way to our seats... again "WHODEYS" were being chanted all around. When we got seated and looked all around the stadium, it was obvious home field advantage was there. I took several pictures and a video our starting offense players being called out... hopefully I can figure this out and post on this article. It was a beautiful site.
Obviously, things didn't go our way and we didn't come close to the victory. The whole way home my friend cursed as if he was one of the coaches yelling at the players... blaming Dalton and what not (the obligatory Bengal Fan overreaction)... as his voice faded away and I reflected on the day, I thought to my self and was very proud to be a Bengal fan. Even though we fell very short of what we wanted to accomplished this year, but our bar was set very high. We can be fans like the guy with his bike collecting cans and count our blessings or we can be the "disgruntled bungles" fan my friend was being on the the way home. Teams like Detroit, Chicago, Arizona, and even the Dolphins should have made the playoffs but didn't. Yes, we lost in the first round 3 years in a row. But its journey and not necessarily destination that matters the most. Super Bowl Trophies and rings will come and go, but the relationships and friendships that we build that stay forever.
If your one of those people that get so frustrated and let it effect your daily lives, LET IT GO! As fans we can only control how we support the team, everything else is up to the Front Office, coaches and players. I still have faith in this team and in this fan base. Our future is still bright! We have a very talented team with a bunch of great coaches.
Bengals Fan Forever