What have Cincinnati fans done to deserve the rotten luck our sports teams have faced over the last few decades? You can call it whining, you can call it poor management, you can even say it's our fault for being a small market city. I'm telling you, it's a curse.
And if I'm wrong, I'm not sure what could be right.
Take a look back at the immense heartbreak over the years. The Reds won the World Series in 1990. Barry Larkin and José Rijo led their team to an improbable, but dominant, victory over the heavily favored Oakland Athletics. The Bengals were also seemingly in a good place at the time as well, having won two AFC Championships the previous decade and were back in the playoffs for another try at it. They even beat the Houston Oilers in the first round of the 1990-91 playoffs to face the Raiders in the divisional round.
Then, all hell broke loose. The Bengals traveled to Los Angeles to play the Raiders. They didn't just lose, they may have damned all of Cincinnati sports to a currently unbroken string of heart breaking defeats. In particular, they ended the football career of two-sport star Bo Jackson. Jackson busted out a 35-yard run against the Bengals in the game, but he paid a price as Kevin Walker tackled him at the hip. It caused a serious hip injury from which he would never recover as a football player.
Raiders fans were devastated, despite winning the game. Without Jackson, they were unable to overcome the might of the Buffalo Bills and ultimately lost the AFC Championship game the following week. Has the anger of Raiders fans, who lost potentially one of the greatest running backs they ever had, affected the luck of the Bengals? Will we all have to learn to live with the fact that Kevin Walker not only destroyed the football career of Bo Jackson, but also the hopes and dreams of Cincinnati sports fans everywhere?
There is another theory. Lifetime Bengals fan and renowned actor, Woody Harrelson, has taken credit for inadvertently cursing the Bengals following their last playoff win. Four days after the win over the Oilers, his character on Cheers (Woody Boyd), found a cursed foosball table that caused quite a few crazy antics on the show.
The cast of Cheers were only able to resolve the issue by employing the services of a priest to perform an exorcism on the table. However, the curse was not broken, only temporarily contained. Following the curse of the foosball table, the Bengals fell into disarray.
From 1991-2003, not a single winning season was achieved by the team. They finally made it back to the playoffs in 2005, where they lost to the *cringe* Steelers.
The curse seems to really be building up lately. Does that mean it's coming near the end of running its course, or is this just what life is going to be like from now on?
The Bengals went through a face lift following the 2010 season, in the attempt to shed their baggage and return to a competitive state. However, all that's done is get fans' hopes up and caused the curse to intensify. In the most recent example of the curse in action, the Bengals were a fumble and a pair of personal fouls away from getting revenge on those hated Steelers.
"The next morning never came," Marvin Lewis told Jim Owczarski at the AFC coaches' breakfast, "it just continued."
It's not just the Bengals either when it comes to the curse and Cincinnati sports. The Reds have been mostly bad over the last two decades or so, save for a few failed playoff appearances. They did make it to the NL championship in 1995, only to be shut out 4-0 by the Atlanta Braves. However, it's been a whole lot of nothing otherwise.
University of Cincinnati and Xavier have been regular participants in the NCAA tournament. But, Xavier has only made it past the regional semifinal once since the curse began, and UC hasn't even gotten that far. This year, both teams looked like they had the potential to make some noise, but both lost in the final seconds of the second round. At this point, we might actually need to try bringing in that priest.
You probably don't want to relive this moment, if you're an Xavier fan:
Or this, if you're a Cincinnati fan.
How much more of this can Cincinnati fans handle? If it really is a curse, hopefully someone can go apologize to Bo Jackson or destroy that foosball table (oh wait, Harrelson took care of that in January... and the Bengals still lost in the playoffs) and end this once and for all.
Until then, we'll just keep waiting for tomorrow morning to come.