A boost from the big game


By David Lindeman

Contributing Columnist

We’re all still cleaning up the mental detritus from the Super Bowl. So close, but oh so … well, so much like the Bengals.

Before we turn our minds back to worldwide pandemics, the invasion of Ukraine, a nationwide drug overdose epidemic that is worse than ever and other pleasant subjects, I think the Bengals deserve one last thank-you from the people in this part of the country. It was 33 years since the Bengals had been in the Super Bowl and even though the future looks bright, for all we know it could be another 33 before the next trip, so you have to celebrate when you can.

I can remember when the Bengals were born back in 1968. I was 12 years old then and I instantly transferred my allegiance from the Cleveland Browns to the Bengals. I remember Greg Cook, Paul Robinson and Bob Johnson. Through all the ensuing years, I took some consolation from the fact that the Browns usually were just as bad, and often worse, than the Bengals. I even married a Browns fan so I have some sympathy for them. I know it’s been tough waiting 33 years for a Super Bowl, but in Cleveland the wait has been … well, forever.

This year’s Super Bowl reminded me of the first time the Bengals went to the Super Bowl back in 1982. The Bengals finally made it to the Big Game and where was it held? Detroit! In January! I remember the Troy Daily News sports editor at the time, Dick Netzley, was thrilled to be able to go to a Super Bowl but couldn’t believe it was being held in Detroit, not Miami or Pasadena. The stadium had a dome but outside there was snow all over the place, which caused a traffic nightmare. A lot of people ended up being late for the game. Joe Montana caused the nightmare inside the stadium for the Bengals.

In 1989, the game was in Miami, where it had been played many times before. But for the first time, it was moved from the Orange Bowl to Joe Robbie Stadium. That was bad karma. Joe Montana was on the other team. The Bengals lost that one, too.

Remember, this is the team that often is identified with Jethro Tull’s “Bungle in the Jungle,” an anthropomorphic song in which the animals act like humans, or maybe it’s vice-versa. Unfortunately, the Bengals’ on-field behavior too often has matched the title of the song. Still, it’s a great song to sing when the other team messes up.

“Well let’s bungle in the jungle, well that’s all right by me, I’m a tiger when I want love, but I’m a snake when we disagree.” I actually saw Jethro Tull in concert in Cincinnati many, many, many years ago. I’m not sure what the connection is, but there’s something significant there.

So let’s look ahead. I am ready to predict the Bengals’ draft choices next year: First round, offensive lineman; second round, offensive lineman; third round, offensive lineman; fourth round, offensive lineman; fifth round, someone who can stand on the sideline and keep fourth string defensive backs from running onto the field in their civilian clothes.

Will the Bengals make it back to the Big Game next year? I wouldn’t bet on it. But then again, I wouldn’t have bet on it this year. I will say that the Bengals’ run this year was a major psychological boost to the people in this part of Ohio, and they’ve given everyone some hope for the future. No matter what happens next year, there’s always this year to remember, Besides, it could be worse … we could be rooting for you-know-who up there on Lake Erie.

So thanks, Bengals. We needed the boost.

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