Jessie Bates and Darius Phillips spoke with the media after their Wednesday afternoon practice. The day after the Bengals announced there would be no fans in Paul Brown Stadium on opening day, the focus of their attention was on playing in empty stadiums.
Bates’ mother is one who was unhappy about the decision.
According to Geoff Hobson, she “got the word so fast that fans won’t be able to attend the Sept. 13 opener against the Chargers at Paul Brown Stadium that he wondered if Bengals president Mike Brown called her himself.”
She only lives three hours away in Fort Wayne, Indiana, and likes to make the trip every Sunday.
“She was pretty pissed about it, but I’m sure she’ll be at my house,” Bates said.
Bates has a more positive opinion than his mother.
“I think it’ll show who’s really here for football and not for all the fame and the fans and stuff like that,” Bates said. “I think it will be more like a scrimmage type of vibe. But it’s going to be very challenging for guys who play for fans and all the hype and stuff like that. It’ll be easier to lock in, I think.”
“We practice in front of no one every day,” Phillips said. “We just go out there and do the same thing, feed off each other’s energy. Every play someone makes a play, we’ll feed off of that like the crowd is there.”
When it’s all said and done, the Bengals’ players are getting paid a lot of money to play football, whether there are fans or not.
“We love the fans, and especially the Cincinnati Bengals fans.” Phillips said. “We would love for them to be there to support us. But at the end of the day, it’s football, so we have to go out there and do our jobs. But the team, we’re going to bring our own juice every time. We would love for the fans to be here, but we’re still going to come out here and give our all.”
The fans would love to be there too, but they’ll have to wait a few weeks, if not longer.