The Cincinnati Bengals are currently in possession of the sixth seed in the AFC, and they can seal just the franchise’s third playoff berth in the Mike Brown era with a win over Baltimore this weekend. That stretch of futility dates back 20 years, and includes three seasons in which Cincy led the league in losses, and only two years when the Bengals finished with a record over .500.
So it’s easy to see why the hatred for Brown and his extremely stubborn and often cheap approach is so deeply rooted in the Bengals fan base. While I’ll confess to being guilty of criticizing Bengals fans for their lack of support in the form of game attendance this year when their young team is finally performing at a high level, it’s clear the bridge between this team and its fans has been burned severely.
This Sunday’s game is at home against a division rival, and it’s one of the most important games in the entire NFL season. Yet selling out was a struggle that required gimmicks and giveaways, like offering a two-for-one deal. Following last week’s win over Arizona that set up this Week 17, win and clinch scenario, Bengals players were begging fans to show up after they had just finished playing a massively important game in front of another scattered and scarce home crowd, with the announced attendance only 41, 273.
This is a league that’s structured around parity, and bad teams getting redemption quickly. It’s a league that’s designed to allow a formerly winless Colts team the opportunity to win three straight to end the season. Hell, even the Lions are planning for post-season football games, and it’s also a league in which the Broncos can start the season 1-4, and then win seven of their next eight games, and be poised to win their division.
Statistically, it takes a truly dedicated effort to be mostly for two decades, which is why exactly one decade ago on this very day, a Bengals fan couldn’t take it anymore. Anonymous aside from a link to MikeBrownsucks.com (which was started by two fans named Dave Young and Kurt Whitener), this fan began a petition to have Brown removed as the Bengals owner, a position Brown had held since 1991 following the passing of his father.
Fans often become angry and start petitions, and sometimes that kind of aggressive action actually works. Persistent yelling in Denver highlighted by large sums of money spent on billboards helped to push John Fox and finally land Tim Tebow his starting quarterback gig. The problem with this Bengals petition was that it’s crazy.
Titled “Remove Mike Brown and Save the Cincinnati Bengals” the petition received only 48 signatures, likely because it was asking for action that isn’t even remotely realistic, even if the premise was supported by many Bengals fans at the time. The petitioners wanted commissioner Paul Tagliabue to suspend Brown to “preserve the integrity of the game”.
Here’s the preamble:
This petition has been presented to you, the Bengal fan, to collect names of those who share the following beliefs regarding the ownership of the Cincinnati Bengals.
The ownership of the Cincinnati Bengals has broken the unwritten contract between a team and its fans.
The ownership of this organization has actively pursued a course which has materially indebted itself to the people of Cincinnati yet have failed to deliver a competitive product through what we feel is gross incompetence at the highest levels of management.
The ownership of this organization is causing a lack of balance in the AFC Central and the NFL as a whole.
And here’s the
punch line call for action:
It is the opinion of those whose names appear below that Commissioner Paul Tagliabue must suspend Mike Brown from the day to day operations of the Cincinnati Bengals and elect an acting General Manager in order to preserve the integrity of the game.
Now much happier times have come to Bengals fans, allowing them to forget about Brown and his lack of judgment for at least one week, and hopefully more.