As an experienced observer I’ve grown to accept the losses. But it’s hard to rationalize the Bengals’ meltdown against the Steelers and think of professional football in Cincinnati in any kind of positive light.
I saw it. You saw it.
The Bengals game Saturday night against the Steelers, particularly the last five minutes.
Head-hunting. Profanities. Pushing, shoving. And running off the field to the locker room tunnel prematurely after Vontaze Burfict’s late interception that should have handed the team its first playoff victory in a quarter of a century. Instead, it set up the predictable where it comes to the Bengals. We’ve all come to expect the worst, and that’s just what we got.
It was an embarrassment, to the organization, its fans, and to the city of Cincinnati. Where’s Sam Wyche now, and his infamous statement: “We don’t live in Cleveland!”
Seriously, Sam? You think those were Cleveland people who threw the bottles out on the field after the two 15-yard penalties that set up the winning field goal?
But more, it was an embarrassment to the game of football, an insight for all to see of how the more questionable of our culture have found their way into the new national pastime. They say football has surpassed baseball in that respect, but when was the last time you saw a display the likes of Burfict’s head-hunting hit on Antonio Brown, or Adam Jones’ profanity-laced post-game rant on Instagram, with any of the other sports?
Both came to the Bengals from troubled adolescent backgrounds, with questionable collegiate resumes’, and somehow found a home and a welcoming outlet for their aggression in the National Football League. And the rest of us (some of us, anyway) look at that and say we see the light at the end of the tunnel…as it relates to life lessons shared with those aspiring to follow in their footsteps.
Embarrassing should hardly describe the emotion felt by the average viewer of Saturday night’s debacle. “Disturbing” comes closer to the fact of the matter. It’s disturbing to see adult professionals take an already-violent game to the level of maim or be maimed. Disturbing to see the inebriated and over-zealous shower Ben Rothlisberger with debris as he was carted from the field in the fourth quarter.
It’s disturbing to see individuals like Jones and Burfict, who’ve previously known their moments outside the lines of accepted and responsible behavior, be given one more chance to come back in July as rehabilitated souls; their stories the latest subject for documentary on ESPN.
And yes, it’s disturbing for being one more chapter in the Bengals’ book of “lowlights” since the passing of team founder and former coach, Paul Brown, in 1991. Brown was famous for his filtering of players who crossed the line of professional decorum. “Act like you’ve been there before,” he once told a player for his excessive celebratory behavior after scoring a touchdown.
For a quarter century now, since their last post-season win in 1990, the Bengals have languished under what Greg Hoard referred to in his Sunday post-game column as “laughing stock” status, relative to “professional” relevance. This most recent example of “Bengalization” may, just may, plunge them back to the bottom rung of the ladder. It begs some questions.
Will there be organizational consequences for Saturday’s giving away of a sure playoff victory…through lack of personal and team discipline?
Will owner Mike Brown hear, and feel, the embarrassment of the community…and the risk of reputation for his place of business becoming an environment to avoid? Or, will even matter to Cincinnatians?
“What a disgrace, an embarrassment,” said former quarterback Boomer Esiason on post-game Twitter.
Will Marvin Lewis survive, again, as head coach? “If he (Lewis) can’t control his players, then maybe he shouldn’t be coaching,” added Esiason.
It does beg some filtering before another season as we wait to see, or hear, anything from the corporate recesses of “the jungle”. If we don’t…it’s the wrong message to the city, the fans, and the culture of football as we’d like to think of it.
And I can’t be the only one when I say…DISTURBING!