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Cincinnati Bengals Don't Get No Respect, Part 8,792

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So, Peter King ranked the Cincinnati Bengals 23rd in his last MMQB column

I'm surprised. I would have predicted at least 30th.

This won't come as a revelation to anyone who pays attention to the coverage the Bengals get from the media, especially the national variety, but "respect" isn't exactly the default position. Even when they are doing well, their accomplishments are ignored, brushed aside or waved away. There was a piece in USA Today a couple weeks back ranking the 20 league personnel men who have been on the job at least three years.

Anyone want to take a stab at who No. 20 was? Hint: Raiders owner Al Davis is No. 19.

In his rankings, King says that he would bet that every Bengals fan is worried about Carson Palmer. Me, I would bet that the number of Bengals fans willing to trade Mike Brown for Undead Al is vanishingly small.

But that's the way it goes in Bengaldom. Recent accomplishments are ho-hum'd in favor of exhuming an increasingly distant past. Note this standard only applies to the Bengals. For the Raiders, a quarter-century of failure is glossed over, but boy, Al had a team back when leisure suits were cool, eh?

Of course, should a Cincinnati Bengal get a ticket for littering, we'll never hear the end of it. Never mind that the team's ugly series of arrests is four years old and counting, or that other teams have since found themselves embroiled in even uglier criminal investigations (*cough* Ben Roethlisberger *cough*), the "fact" that the Bengals are "thugs" is as ingrained in the media narrative as is the "fact" that they suck.

Even if the Bengals do well this year -- and I believe they will -- I don't expect this situation to change. If it was going to, it would have done so by now. By any objective measure, the Bengals have indeed "turned the corner," despite King's doubts to the contrary. That they turned the corner back in 2003 is evidenced by their 56-55-1 record since. A .500 record may not seem like much to brag about, but those 56 games won in the past seven seasons is more than they won in the 12 seasons from 1991 to 2002. Franchise founder Paul Brown had almost exactly the same record as head coach of the Bengals as Marvin Lewis does now. Sam Wyche got the Bengals to a Super Bowl with a worse overall record; Lewis might have done it, too, had Kimo von Kneecapper not intervened.

Historically speaking, the anomaly isn't the last seven years, it's the "Lost Decade" in the 1990s. From their inception in 1968 to 1990, the Bengals were a .490 club. The they went into the toilet for 12 seasons. Since '03, they've been back at their traditional level.

That isn't to argue that they are world-beaters, or that fans shouldn't expect -- and demand -- better. It's just to note how fouled up the media is when it comes to analyzing this team. Reporting on it? They can do that well. But here in the silly season, when pages have to be filled whether there is something to talk about or not, the sports media's lack of interest in questioning its own assumptions becomes obvious.

My advice? Sit back and enjoy. Let them keep dumping on the team, ranking it among the dregs of the league and pimping the Steelers and Ravens. Not getting any respect seemed to serve the Bengals pretty well in 2009. Why change a winning formula?