Posted on: September 14, 2009 8:34 pm
If you have never read the Viewpoint before, the very first blog post I ever made for CBS Sports was about the Cincinnati Bengals, and how I was still a fan of the Bengals, despite their terribleness and futility. They may be losers, but they're *my* losers. Go Bengals. Who Dey. And, at the time, I thought to myself, "They may be really bad, but I can't ever see myself not being a fan of the team. Who else could I possibly root for?"
Yesterday, the Cincinnati Bengals kicked off their 2009 NFL season against a Denver Bronco team that many felt would be contending for the bottom spot in their division. For the first 59 minutes, the formerly vaunted Bengals offense could not score a single point against the Broncos. The Bengals D played admirably for that first 59 minutes, but the Bengals offense just couldn't get anything done. Then, finally, as if many prayers were answered at once, Cedric Benson scored a touchdown. Thankfully, Brad St. Louis did NOT botch this snap, and the extra point was converted. 7-6 Cincinnati. Still, keep in mind that this is the Cincinnati Bengals we are talking about here. You never, EVER feel safe with a lead, no matter how late in the game it is. I held my breath, and hoped that all would go well. Maybe the Bengals would actually start the season with a win. Maybe this is the start of a new era in Cincinnati. Ball is in the air...tipped pass! We're gonna wi--
Silence. Complete and utter silence.
Brandon Stokley's miracle touchdown gave Denver the 12-7 victory in a game that Denver just barely deserved more, but that's not important, that's not the point of this article. It's only the first game of the 2009 NFL season, but this is the type of loss that, usually, demoralizes a team to the point that they can barely function as a unit. There have been instances of teams rising up against such terrible karma, but when is the last time the Bengals have ever had good karma? Even after the Bengals actually made it to the playoffs as division winners in 2005, the football gods just couldn't let the Bengals have any shot of winning, so they took out Carson Palmer AND Chris Henry in one cruel play.
The Bengals are, as a whole, one cruel joke. They have had one winning season in 20 years, and that ended in a painful wild card playoff loss. Every other year has been filled with mediocrity, or, in most years, futility. It is a wonder that so many of us are still faithfully watching the Bengals, even though it is clear that this team doesn't really carry the aura of a team that wins. Let there be no doubt that the Bengals have the most dedicated fanbase in all of football. How could any team this bad actually still have fans? It's a question that still boggles many minds.
So, with that in mind, I have a confession to make. Even while I was making that aforementioned first blog post, I was reconsidering my fandom of the Bengals. For years, I have wondered what it would be like to not root for the Bengals, to have all of the stress that this team causes away from me, gone forever. I believe that this Denver game may be enough to make me wonder out loud, "Should I just give up now while I'm ahead?" I will be the first person to admit that I'm not a bandwagon fan. Even when this team started couldn't buy a win last season, and people brought up the possibility of a winless season (which did happen, but just not the Bengals, of course), I rooted for them like there was no other team to root for. But sometimes, you have to wonder just when enough is enough, what your threshold of pain and patience really is with a team that rarely wins.
The big problem is that there's no conceivable way I can move on and root for another team. The Bengals ARE my team. They are in my blood, they are a part of me. Rooting for another team would just be hollow. So, basically, it comes down to this: Do I love my Bengals so much that I would quit caring about football for them? And it's a question that I'm taking very seriously. I love football. Adore it. It's second to basketball (let's face it, in Kentucky, basketball is king), but it's a very close second. The Bengals are at the top of that love. If I stop caring about them, then wouldn't I stop caring about the entire sport, by proxy? I mean, I do have the Kentucky football team, but it doesn't compare to my love of the Bengals.
I'm at a crossroads, and I'm not sure which path to take. Do I take that familiar road and trudge on as a fan of the most joked about team in all of sports, or do I take the road less travelled and just walk away from the sport entirely? It may take me a while to answer that question and choose the correct road. For the first time, I'm actually considering the other path as a possibility. Surely, my life would be better off for it, lacking the stress and anxiety and sadness that the Bengals always hand down upon me, right? Surely, it can only be good for me to rid my mind of such distracting and stressful thoughts, right?
Posted on: March 27, 2009 7:34 pm
Edited on: March 30, 2009 1:19 am
Yeah, I know, long time, no see. I decided to take one of my "famous" breaks, where I did one thing of note and then left everything behind. Since that point, the Kentucky Wildcats missed the NCAA tournament for the first time in almost 20 years, the Cincinnati Bengals won three games in a row to end the season, and, thus, cost themselves a top five pick, and the Reds...well, were the Reds. The only bright side, it seems, is the Cavaliers, as they continue to prove themselves on a nightly basis. Of course, considering that they are only fourth in my sports fandom chain, it isn't THAT comforting.
More importantly, I've decided to change the name of the blog to "The Viewpoint". No real reason, I guess. *shrugs*
But I digress.
As you all know, Kentucky Wildcats men's basketball coach Billy Gillispie is now unemployed, thanks to an NIT appearance and, more importantly, a bitter attitude and poor leadership. Now, am I THAT sad that Billy was fired? No, I'm not. Billy wasn't "the right fit", as Mitch Barnhart said at what is sure to be one of the most remembered press conferences in Kentucky sports history. I agree with that. He was not a good representative of the Big Blue Nation, and it showed every night, especially on game night. And, if you want to talk about strictly team performance, a one-and-done as an 11th seed last year and an NIT appearance this season is, admittedly, not up to Kentucky's lofty standards.
That being said, they only gave Billy TWO YEARS to do something constructive. Now, I may not be the smartest rock of the bunch or anything like that, but I can tell you that it takes, generally, more than two years to rebuild a team that was in the situation that Kentucky was in. Yes, Kentucky choked away an SEC championship and an NCAA tournament bid down the stretch, but people forget that this Kentucky team wasn't expected to do much, in the first place. They had just lost their two best players, Ramel Bradley and Joe Crawford. Jodie Meeks was coming back, but Derrick Jasper transferred to UNLV, which left Kentucky with a serious point guard hole. Billy did the absolute best that he could to maximize this team's potential, but it just wasn't enough. Because of this, Barnhart and Kentucky president Lee Todd saw fit to fire him for this. Most schools would be ecstatic with Billy's results, but not at Kentucky. And, to me, that is pathetic.
When I heard the first story leak about Billy's firing, I thought to myself, "Okay, well, unless they can get someone like a Donovan or a Calipari or a Pitino, the coach that comes in will either be a lateral change or a downward change." It is being reported in various circles that Billy Donovan and John Calipari intend on staying with their respective schools. In other words, they turned Kentucky down, not the other way around. Oh, and Pitino is looking at a possible Elite Eight appearance tonight. Same with another rumored name, Tom Izzo. Oh, and Mike Anderson's Missouri Tigers are IN the Elite Eight. Those are five very deserving candidates who look like they are a-ok in their position.
So, who does that leave? Well, various reporters have mentioned quite a few of the names that were mentioned above (okay, maybe they didn't mention Mike Anderson, but I DID!). I have yet to mention one name and it's a name that I really hope and pray does NOT become the head coach of the Kentucky Wildcats: Travis Ford. Some of you remember the Travis Ford that played at Kentucky, and is a beloved Wildcat, through and through, so the first instinct is to hire him, if the aforementioned names are not available, right? Except there's just one problem...HE'S BILLY GILLISPIE 2.0!!!
Are you freaking kidding me? You want to bring in another guy who is JUST like Billy, a guy who has not really proven himself to be a true winner, a guy who is just as rude to the media as Gillispie was, if not worse, a guy who likes to run his guys to the point of exhaustion, just like Gillispie, again? Are you SERIOUS? And you think this is going to HELP the Wildcats? But, oh, that's right, he was a former Wildcat. Oh, I get it now, my mistake. Give me a break. Hiring Travis Ford to replace Billy Gillispie would just lead to the repeating of the cycle, over and over again, until Travis himself is fired after two or three years of mediocrity and futility. Then what? Who the HELL does Kentucky hire then? Who would want to coach a team that just fired their last two coaches after two to three seasons of mediocrity?
I may be a gigantic Kentucky fan, but even I can't watch this entire saga without feeling an anger that I haven't quite felt about a team that I love in a long, long time. Billy Clyde Gillispie may not have been the answer in Kentucky, but to only give him two years, with very few of his own recruits available to him, with a limited amount of talent, is an absolute joke. I've read posts all over the sports forum world, making fun of Kentucky, laughing at their plight, reveling in their fall. And they SHOULD, because it doesn't take a rocket scientist to understand that two mediocre seasons should not force a coach out of his position as coach, even at Kentucky, even with an asshole (to the press, anyway) like Gillispie being the representative of the BBN. This whole saga makes me sick to my stomach, and, quite frankly, I'm beginning to question my fandom of the one team that I have always loved, dating back to the days when I was rooting for the Cowboys and the Bulls, just because it was hip and cool to do so. Is it really worth it to follow a team that treats coaches like they are fast food? Is it really worth the time and effort to watch a team that has been so tainted by bad press and bad decisions? Hmm. Actually, that last line leads to another favorite team of mine that just doesn't seem to care about its fans and its love of the team...but that's another story for another time.
Long story short, for the first time in my entire life, I am ashamed to be a fan of the Kentucky Wildcats. And, believe me, that is not a good feeling.
(Sorry about the edit, but there was a long period of blank space at the end of the post, and it had to be deleted.)
Posted on: November 24, 2008 7:31 pm
First of all, since this is the first entry of the (hopefully) soon-to-be kind of famous "I'm Still A Fan" blog, I figure that I could throw a bone and fill you in on a bit of my history. My name is Brandon. Yeah, hello to you, too. I am 21 years old, and I live in Kentucky. Before you get visions of "rednecks" and "The South", we're not all what the stereotypes say we are. When I was a child, I was, for lack of a better term, a bandwagon fan. I was a huge fan of the Bulls and Cowboys. I don't know what I was thinking with the Cowboys, but the Bulls had the greatest baller to ever lace up a pair of sneakers, so that makes a bit of sense, at least. When I grew older, I began to become a fan of teams that were actually in close vicinity to yours truly: The Bengals, the Reds, even the Cincinnati Cyclones. And I still hold a few bandwagon tendencies. I love the Pittsburgh Penguins, mostly because, when I was a child, playing the old school NHL games for the Super Nintendo, my brother would always play as Pittsburgh, and I would follow suit, usually. Yeah, kind of a stupid reason to love a team, but it's just the way it is. The Cleveland Cavaliers are a little more simple to define. They are the closest NBA team to me, plus they have my absolute favorite player in the league(and maybe ever), LeBron James.
Above all else, however, I bleed blue. Kentucky blue. Even in my early days of bandwagoning, I cheered for Kentucky. As I grew up, I grew out of phases where I was a big fan of the Cincinnati Bearcats and Xavier Musketeers, but I never stopped cheering for the Wildcats. Ever. Even now, with Kentucky going through a decided rebuilding phase(and even during a Kentucky rebuilding phase, they still make the NCAA tournament), I still care, maybe even a bit too much. I'm still a fan, no matter what Kentucky does incorrectly.
And that leads me to my other favorite team, the beacon of futility, the kings of terrible football, the powerhouse of painful games. The Bungles themselves. Led by the most incompetent owner in sports, and filled with players and coaches who are just as incompetent as the man that signs their paychecks(the apple doesn't fall far from the tree, I suppose), the Cincinnati Bengals are the laughingstock of the NFL(along with the Detroit Lions), and have been for quite some time. Even when they had a brief glimpse of what it's like to be a credible NFL team, everyone knew, deep down, that it wouldn't last. "It's the Cincinnati Bungles, for christ's sake," you must be saying to yourself, and I don't blame you, not one bit. When it comes down to it, a team like the Bengals shouldn't have fans.
But that's just it. They do have fans, maybe the most diehard fans in the league. Yeah, every team has its share of diehards, but a select amount of diehards can truly say that they would go through watching their favorite team suffer through an endless cycle of futility. That Cincinnati still has a legion of fans, regardless of the fact that their team is borderline pointless, is a testament to the willpower and the hope of the Bengal faithful, who would rather die than become a fan of the Steelers, even though they know that the Steelers are what the Bengals aren't. Even though they're 1-9-1, which is still funny to look at, we Bengals fans, the TRUE Bengal fans, not the fans that decided to jump on the bandwagon when they actually made the playoffs three years ago, still care, because they're our team. In a way, they're like the black sheep of the NFL. They just can't seem to do anything right, and they're shunned by the other members of the NFL family, but they're still part of the family, and they still have a family of their own that loves them and will always appreciate the fact that they are lovable losers.
You can laugh at the Bengals for being a terrible team. Hell, you can laugh at me for being a fan of a terrible team. That's fine. Regardless, I am still a fan of the Bengals, and I will always be a fan of the Bengals. I will be here for every trial and tribulation that this team goes through, for every win, for every loss, because I care about my team, the team that I can call my own. Where the Bengals sink, I sink. And really, when you're as deep of a fan as I am of the Bengals, the only thing left to do is to sink even deeper. I'm okay with that, too.