This is a first.
The Cincinnati Bengals are gaining in popularity despite not having done anything on the field recently.
Why? It’s pretty simple, really. Joe Burrow. He’s just that talented. And management has surrounded its franchise quarterback with quality free agents and addressed glaring needs in the NFL Draft. As a result, Burrow’s jerseys are among the highest selling and the fanbase is bound to grow exponentially.
In a way, it’s almost unfair. Some of us have lived through decades of pain, suffering, and disappointment. This is our moment. Still, we welcome new fans with open arms. In fact, we will take them under our wings and show them what it means to love the Cincinnati Bengals. Or rather warn them.
In this video—featuring standup comic and Saturday Night Live alum Luke Null—we explain how one becomes a Bengals fan.
Our points are summarized below:
- You come from one of the relevant regions, like southwest Ohio, most of Kentucky, or southeast Indiana. Most of Ohio will be accepted, but we recognize most other parts are Browns country.
- You understand what it means to suffer heartbreak. For some of us it was the Jeremy Hill fumble and the ensuing penalties that cost us the game against the Pittsburgh Steelers in the 2016 Wildcard round. For others, it was Kimo Van Oelhoffen’s cheap hit on Carson Palmer in the 2006 playoffs also against the Steelers. For me, it was when running back Ki-Jana Carter tore up his knee in his first preseason game. People forget that Carter, the first overall pick out of Penn State, was supposed to be the franchise’s savior. This was back in 1995, when running backs could be the most important person on a team. Now, I don’t want to scare anybody, but you can see why one must be prepared to suffer such heartbreak considering the primary source of our current hope.
- You recognize that our players’ achievements will be under appreciated. Just look at the current Twitter debates surrounding Joe Mixon or Burrow and A.J. Green vs. Baker Mayfield and Odell Beckham Jr. More importantly, look at the Hall of Fame snubs like Ken Anderson, Ken Riley, Corey Dillon, and Willie Anderson. Being a Bengal means you will not get your due, and we fans have grown used to it.
- You develop deep hatred for the Steelers. So many of our disappointments have been at the hands of the Steelers, and many of them because they play dirty and get away with it. In fact, they take pride in it and there’s nothing the league will do about it. As fans, we’ve gotten used to it. We know our team has to be far superior in talent to defeat the Steelers because of the favoritism they receive as well as the fact that they’re in our heads. Hopefully the charisma, leadership, and toughness of a guy like Burrow can change that narrative. But for new fans, it’s important to understand the understand the uphill battle our team faces.
To the newcomers: follow these guidelines and you’ll fit right in.