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2009 Epilogue: Chin Up, Bengal Fan

So as we all put on our coats and hats and head for the door, let us not leave with heavy hearts and troubled minds.  Instead of carrying with us the disappointment of the loss that ended it all, replace that mental burden with the pride of witnessing your favorite team earn an extra game this season.  While there remain plenty of things for us to nitpick over during the offseason, there's one fact that no one can argue against: the Cincinnati Bengals gave it their all in 2009.

Most of us didn't realistically expect them to win the division.  We assumed they could better the nightmare of the previous year's campaign, but a few serious residual problems were presumed to still exist.  After beating Green Bay and Pittsburgh, a little optimism blew into the Queen City and before long, the Playoffs became a certainty. 

The fans and media weren't totally sure what was happening and apparently neither was the rest of the AFC North.  The primary goal was to take care of the division, which the Bengals encountered zero problems achieving.  They survived a sneaky Cleveland team, toughened up against a brawny Ravens squad and slayed the Steelers Dragon; their journey through the division could have been written by the Brothers Grimm themselves. 

Unsung heroes like Brian Leonard, Andre Caldwell and Frostee Rucker sprung to life in legendary moments that will forever be cemented in Bengal lore.  A no-name offensive line---once thought to be the team's Achilles heel---simply muscled their way into the limelight.  A cornerback tandem not typically grouped with the league's elite have since earned their names mentioned in such a discussion (editor's note: Leon Hall was just named to the All-Pro second team!)  Many facets within the organization not only improved beyond expectation, but quickly legitimized the team's status as a contender; something taken very seriously around these parts. 

These are the moments to carry you through the Spring and Summer; the triumphs that shadow the drawbacks.  Who knows how long the NFL, or even we ourselves, will last?  Another life-lesson that this season provided to the Bengals and their fans is that unpleasant yet necessary whiff of our own mortality.  There's no time to celebrate more than the present, and after this season, we should all profoundly understand that fact.

Now go out into the cold as a happy Bengal fan.  Smile upon those poor saps wearing black and gold; revel in their awkward January idleness.  Root the Ravens to the Super Bowl---after all, we don't hate them, right?  Enjoy March Madness, Baseball and the World Cup, and when it's time again, I'll be right here waiting.   


Mojokong---to you, the readers.  Without you, I'm just talking to myself