The Bengals will be playing the Steelers for their first home game of the 2013 season. It's Monday Night Football. The lights of Paul Brown Stadium will be beaming through the evening skies as the nation watches a team that's expected to win by many experts around the country.
For those of you attending the game, it's a moment to reunite with fans of all kinds. In honor of the Bengals home opener, I thought it would be fitting to offer up some descriptions of many fans you may come across on Monday night. This isn't a definitive list by any means, and a lot of this list is inspired by my own personal interactions. Feel free to contribute your own observations.
Here is a list of seven types of Bengals fans you may be familiar with when attending Bengals games:
The Bengals Cheerleader - Not to be confused with the Ben-Gals, this fan is quick to get everyone involved in the stands. Whether it's a ninth attempt at starting the wave or reassuring surrounding fans that a successful extra point attempt is worth celebrating as much as a 60-yard field goal, the Bengals Cheerleader can always be counted on to get involved in raising morale. At times the Bengals Cheerleader may risk annoying fans simply wanting to focus on the game. However, without them, Paul Brown Stadium would be uncomfortably silent. Embrace them, and just get up for at least one wave to make this fan happy.
The Bungles Fan - These fans can be one of the more common, but they're slowly dwindling. Anyone reading this knows The Bungles Fan. These fans are a double-edged sword. They can be therapeutic in the most frustrating moments of a game. On the other hand, The Bungles Fan is relentless in believing the Bengals are the same team they were in 1991 or any other awful season the Bengals experienced over the last two decades. It's the forever pessimistic attitude of The Bungles Fan that can test your patience. Even if you're witnessing a three-possession lead in the third quarter, the Bungles fan will yell "Same old Bungles!" after back to back penalties. Often times The Bungles Fan requires understanding. These fans are likely bitter from the merciless dark ages of the franchise, and have seen things that some were fortunate to not be traumatized by. At their core, Bungles Fans really want the Bengals to succeed. They just have a shorter fuse. Be sure to stay positive and involve Bungles Fans in celebrating the big plays on the field during the game. They're begging for both attention and warm feelings.
The Bengals Hipster - This is that fan that only wears throwback t-shirts while arguing that Ken Zampese should be overthrowing Marvin Lewis as head coach in 2014. He'll dissect all the reasons he believes Jeff Rowe should have been a starting quarterback in the NFL but wasn't given the right opportunities. If you ask the Bengals Hipster what Bengals blogs he reads, he'll plug some blog that started up seven days ago that is likely authored by his coworker or barista. There are times where the Bengals Hipster will make valid arguments, but to them it's the only argument. It takes a special breed of patience and often times sobriety to handle the most extreme Bengals Hipsters, but usually they can offer a perspective you never considered. If anything, it creates for some very fresh debate topics.
The Bengals Fantasy Owner - This fan owns a few (or all) Bengals players on his or her fantasy team. This fan will not only cheer when BenJarvus Green-Ellis scores a touchdown, he'll be furiously scrolling through his phone while shouting that he drafted him late in the tenth round. He may even own some players on the visiting team. He wants to have his cake and eat it too. He hates the Ravens, but wants Ray Rice to get 160 rushing yards without reaching the end zone against the Bengals. Perhaps, in the worst of cases, the guy he's playing that week in his fantasy league owns Bengals players. He'll have a love/hate relationship with A.J. Green all day, and you'll know every detail of the complex relationship. The Bengals Fantasy Owner can be neutralized when the action on the field gets intense. Ultimately, they're a Bengals fan first and foremost. They simply carry around a little extra baggage.
The Bengals Genius - Knows everything from every year in franchise history. Soak in some knowledge, my friend, but do so in small doses if possible. Oftentimes, the Bengals Genius has empty stats to regurgitate. There are a rare few that can be very insightful and entertaining - enjoy this magical unicorn if you find one.
The Loyal Alum - The Loyal Alum is a rare breed, but you'll inevitably run into a few of them at Paul Brown Stadium over time. This is the person that went to Georgia and knew a guy who was at the same house party as Jermaine Gresham during his college days. It's the person that wears a TCU hat and a generic blue wind breaker to Bengals games. The Loyal Alum isn't necessarily loyal to the Bengals, but is a fan as long as a player from his alma mater is in stripes. These fans can be tricky. On one hand, they're easy to talk with about their favorite player. They have a very specific area of expertise. They'll provide all sorts of information as someone that focused solely on their NCAA football team. They can be a bit unreliable at times however. The rarest of Loyal Alumni are the ones that will tell stories of personal accounts with a Bengals player from his or her college years. While they can be wildly entertaining at times, they should be met with proper skepticism.
The Bengals Ambassador - This is that fan that jumps into to any dispute between visiting team fans. Maybe you have some Steelers fans making the same tired comments on the arrest history of the Bengals, or a Ravens fan is quick to remind you that the Bengals can't capitalize on a playoff appearance. Before things get heated and half of your section is dialing the JERK line, the Bengals Ambassador knows just what to say in order to diffuse the situation. Commend these fans. They implore level heads in an otherwise extremely competitive atmosphere.
Regardless of who you come across or regardless of what fan you may fit the description of, there is of course a common purpose that binds us: A desire to see the Bengals win a championship. At the end of the day, we should all celebrate another season together. So grab a cold one, have some laughs, and enjoy this Bengals team together.