The Pittsburgh Steelers’ first round pick out of Ohio State in 2014, Ryan Shazier is relatively new to the Steelers and their rivalry with the Cincinnati Bengals. But, he has apparently already been part of the Steelers’ organization long enough to be writing the Bengals off as rivals.
Recently, Shazier was on the Tiki and Tierney show, explaining his perspective on the rivalry.
“I think Cincinnati wants to be our rival, but the Ravens are still our rivals,” Shazier said when asked about the Bengals.
Maybe Shazier doesn’t understand what a rival is. The Steelers may feel the Ravens are their biggest rival, but, the Bengals and Steelers are still rivals, regardless of whether the Ravens are considered the Steelers’ top rival.
Shazier’s statement is a tired and old perspective that really doesn’t make much sense. Understandably, the Steelers and Ravens have been staunch rivals for years, competing for control of their division ever since the Ravens first broke out as a playoff contender in the 2000 season. From 2001-2016, the Ravens and Steelers have accounted for 11 of 15 AFC Central or AFC North division championships. They have also accounted for 20 of the 27 playoff appearances by an AFC Central or AFC North team in those years.
However, the Bengals have accounted for the other four division championships in 2005, 2009, 2013, and 2015, as well as the other seven playoff appearances in 2005, 2009 and 2011-2015. The Bengals have developed intense rivalries with the Baltimore Ravens and Pittsburgh Steelers as a result.
Add to that list the Bengals’ long-standing rivalry with the Cleveland Browns, an in-state rivalry based on former Bengals owner Paul Brown’s quest for vengeance after being fired by the Browns in 1964. You could potentially even throw the San Francisco 49ers in there due to their 2-0 record against the Bengals in Super Bowls, despite the lack of intensity between the teams in the 21st century. The idea of only having one rival just doesn’t make any sense for many reasons, but including because you play more than one team each season.
For whatever reason, Shazier thinks you can only have one rival. The Bengals might not have the same history of success as the Ravens, but they have been just as much a contender in the AFC North as the Steelers or Ravens in recent years.
In fact, you don’t have to look too far in the past to find a perfect example of how the two teams feel about each other. The Bengals and Steelers’ 2015 Wild Card game was rife with a sense of pure hatred from both teams, largely due to the sheer level of competition between the two teams at this point. If that isn’t the sign of an intense rivalry, I don’t know what is.
A rivalry is simply the accumulation of heated matchups between teams due to competition. To consider the Steelers’ rivalry with the Bengals less intense than their rivalry with the Ravens is understandable, although it certainly didn’t look like that last year. But, to not even consider the Bengals a rival at all because another team holds that distinction proves you don’t know what the word means.