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Why Your Team Sucks

Why Your Team Sucks 2020: Cincinnati Bengals

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Some people are fans of the Cincinnati Bengals. But many, many more people are NOT fans of the Cincinnati Bengals. This 2020 Defector NFL team preview is for those in the latter group. Read all the previews so far here.

Your team: Cincinnati Bengals.

Oh no it’s not.

Your 2019 record: 2-14, kicking off with 11 losses in a row. And lemme tell you something: if this team had gone the Full Diarrhea and gone 0-16 last season, no one on earth would have given a shit. When the Lions did it, it was new and exciting! Like amputating one of your own testicles! When the Browns did it, it was amusing because the Browns. But the Bengals? What am I supposed to feel when they lose? Sympathy? Pity? I FEEL NOTHING. The Bengals were dead inside long before the rest of us were. Watching them play football makes me forget I have a brain.

Your coach: Human Yeti cooler Zac Taylor. Taylor, seen here asking a Trader Joe’s floor manager why he and his wife have to wear masks…

…did precisely nothing last season to suggest that he’s a wunderkind on par with his old boss Sean McVay. About the only thing those two men have in common at the moment is that I could describe them perfectly to a sketch artist by saying the words "Ryan Visor." He doesn’t even know the fucking RULES to this sport. In two years Taylor and his country music-ass name will be fired and he’ll be sitting alone at an airport, calling your girlfriend “sweetheart” and handing her an empty beer bottle to throw away even though she doesn’t work there.

Your quarterback: YOU’RE FREE! YOU’RE FREE! Tear off those discount shackles, Bengals fans, because after nearly a full decade, you never have to watch Andy Dalton play for your team ever again. Dalton was benched for the immortal Ryan Finley last season (by all means, confuse him with Ryan Lindley) after spending nine years answering the question, “Hey, what would it look like if Chase Daniel had actually played while making all that money?” Dalton leaves behind a legacy(?) of losing five straight playoff games, followed by four years of not making the playoffs at all. The one time he threw over 30 TDs, he also threw 20 picks. He had all the mobility of a rent-a-cop. He was a visiting relative who would never leave.

But he’s dead now. He’s in Dallas, sharing a Johnnie Walker Ginger IV drip with Jerry Jones. Hence, your new starting quarterback is… my son.

SO HANDSOME! The weak chin, the prep school hair, the sallow complexion. MY BOY HAS IT ALL.

Not content to let the Browns be the ONLY team in Ohio to consistently ruin sure things, the Bengals drafted Joe Burrow No. 1 overall after Burrow had the most dominant season of any quarterback in the history of college football. Always a good sign for your franchise when the conversation at draft time is, “Hey, will the player these guys draft actually WANT to play for them?” Joe Burrow was an eternal folk hero at LSU. As soon as he became a Bengal, he basically transformed into Matt Cassel in my head. I’m already in mourning. It's just impossible to imagine a legitimately cool player being a Bengal. It doesn’t happen. Look what they did to Carson Palmer…

That’s you, my dear Joe. Two months from now, it’ll be you selling your dignity to fellate some mustard-laced franks on camera.

What’s new that sucks: You know how the Steelers and Packers are allergic to roster turnover? Okay, now imagine that same consistency, only in service of eating shit year after year. The drafting of Burrow aside, it counts as a major change in this organization when, like, Mike Brown gives a scout some of his leftover Chinese takeout and doesn’t dock the scout’s pay for it.

Hence, poor Burrow will be laboring behind an offensive line that only got worse throughout Dalton’s tenure. His running back is still the guy who punched a lady. Wideout A.J. Green has 800 receiving yards, three touchdowns, and four nagging ankle injuries written all over him this year. The team drafted Tee Higgins to catch balls but most every rookie will be worthless this year thanks to the pandemic. I have always believed that great quarterbacks can make chicken salad out of chicken shit, but Joe Burrow doesn’t even HAVE chicken shit to work with here. The league should let him carry a gun out onto the field. You can’t have a rebuild when that rebuild consists of literally just one player. Once Burrow gets his sternum amputated by the rest of this division, the Bengals will revert back to being The Violence Team again.

On defense, the Bengals signed Trae Waynes and Mackensie Alexander away from the Vikings to maintain the illusion of having a secondary. Waynes is already out for half the season with a torn pec. Alexander just got arrested for assaulting one of his dad’s friends when his dad went missing for three days because he got lost while picking berries. I swear that’s all true. Mackensie Alexander’s dad might be Yogi Bear. Geno Atkins will spend his 56th year anchoring the D-line. Atkins is one of those players who has had a great career while never being on great teams. You can make a lot of cash being Defense Barry Sanders, but it’s never gonna be much more rewarding beyond that.

Cedric Benson died. The team chaplain got the rona.

What has always sucked: The Bengals were founded as a spiritual AFL spinoff of the Browns. Paul Brown founded the team six years after Art Modell drove him out of Cleveland. Do you know how fucking sorry you have to be to be a cheap facsimile of the BROWNS? And do you know how hard it is for a city to be an even greater backwater than Cleveland? Well, in tandem, the Bengals and Cincinnati somehow have managed to pull it all off. The Bengals can’t even muster the strength to be OFFENSIVELY shitty, like Washington. They’re a dried cum stain on a cellar floor. Best left unseen and unmentioned.

Speaking of things best left unseen… CINCINNATI. You know, I just spent an entire summer watching cops all across this country deploy pepper spray like Glade air freshener. And yet, I saw no footage of Cincinnati cops doing their rotten filthy business. Maybe they realized that their methods were outdated and that LOL JUST KIDDING THEY TREATED INNOCENT PEOPLE LIKE LAB RATS.

Cincinnati has its racism honed like a fine blade. They were clubbing people to death long before the NYPD even stumbled upon the notion. And Bengals owner Mike Brown loves nothing more than catering to Cincinnati’s worst impulses when he’s not robbing its citizens blind:

Another player, who spoke with me off the record, echoed (George) Iloka’s account of the emergency team meeting when Cincinnati Bengals owner, Mike Brown, made a blunt request.

"He pretty much says, ‘I don't want you guys kneeling.’ He said our fans will crush us… He just begged, like really begged... He didn't want the backfire that was going to come from it."

Every Bengals fan pisses and moans about Mike Brown, but the truth is that every NFL city gets the owner it deserves. Brown is fitting steward for Cincinnati, whose two most famous cultural exports are Larry Flynt and Jerry Springer. The city worships a baseball team that hasn’t won anything since math was invented. Its skyline is a stock photo no one uses. No wonder this is your fucking football team. No wonder this is who owns it. The Bengals are you, Cincinnati: cheap, intolerant, and pathetic. 

What might not suck: Sometimes a player comes along who so completely transforms an NFL franchise that every old knock against it vanishes from the collective memory. Tom Brady did this in New England. Joe Burrow could perhaps do this … had any other team drafted him.



Please hurt me.


Nothing about this franchise will ever change except for the worse.


It should not surprise anyone that the Bengals finally get a glimmer of hope in a true, badass franchise quarterback, and then the world ends.


Openly admitting being a Bengals fan should be enough for any decent psychiatrist to recommend an extended suicide watch.


JFC I hate this team with every fiber of my being. The entire front office deserves COVID but they won't get it b/c they're in bed with the devil. 


Last year I said "Fuck you Dad" here and it was printed, so he read it. His only reaction was to chuckle and remind me that he isn't forcing me to root for this shitty team anymore. Truly insufferable.


I don't think I'll ever forget that John Ross was drafted before Patrick Mahomes.


Without fail, my dad always reminds me that the Bengals haven't won a playoff game since the year I was born, liking me to a curse upon the team. 


Everybody’s glad he’s ok, but who can honestly blame Mackensie Alexander’s dad for going off the grid and putting as much distance between himself and the Bengals as possible?


I keep bringing Skyline Chili Dip to every Super Bowl party I go to. I'm the asshole I hate.

I was 6 when my family moved from Connecticut to Cincinnati, Ohio. This was the year after they lost the Super Bowl to Joe Montana. When moving, my dad said, "Look, you have a team to root for that just went to the Super Bowl and is good! You don't have to root for an awful team like the Patriots!" Well, 30+ years later, at least I'm not a Masshole.


As a consolation prize for having the worst record in the league, we lucked into Sam Darnold/Drew Magary lookalike and generational talent Joe Burrow. Now due to Covid, we all get to look at him getting thrown into an offence with no live reps behind a line that, despite being a complete train wreck, the management didn't feel the need to improve. 


I was so excited to write this e-mail. I need something to take my mind off the fact that my school district is sending me back to teach in the middle of a plague. But I just can't remember a goddamned thing that happened last season. I think some guy named Findlay (Findley?) was our quarterback. Burfict got kicked out of the league, but I don't think he was on our team. I know we got at least one win. Did we get two? I don't think A.J. Green played. What the hell is our coach's name again? More people know him as "Former Rams Quarterback Coach" than his actual name.  I swear to god I watched every game.


There is a Bengals bar in the Bowery in Manhattan called Phebe’s that decorates the walls with Bengals memorabilia before games and plays the fight song and serves Cincinnati style gloop/chili. The first time I went was during the 2015 season when the Bengals stomped the Browns 31-10. It was a packed house, incredible energy and it was the greatest football experience I’ve had because being a Bengals fan isn’t full of good experiences and I had never met another Bengals fan before that day.

After that year I moved away from New York City but always wanted to go back on a Sunday to catch a game at Phebe’s. I made a trip there last year to watch the Bengals play the Raiders, it was a 4:00 Game and I invited some friends and family who still lived in the area to join me. I talked up how great the atmosphere was and promised a great afternoon. They put us in the back room of the restaurant with the one other table of Bengals fans that bothered to show up. Ryan Finley threw 31 passes for 115 yards and the Bengals lost 17-10.


Bengal fans spent the offseason prematurely celebrating their draft class and free agent acquisitions, conveniently forgetting the fact that the organization is still run by a family of greedy, corn-fed villains from some back woods planet in a Star Wars movie. They would cancel Christmas if they could.


The Bengals turned 50 in 2017. They put up these Bengal-striped, four-foot tall “50” monuments all over town. Just the numerals 5 and 0, so really not the kind of thing that has any relevance after the 50th season, but possibly someone thought they were cool photo ops 3+ years ago when they went up.

It’s now 2020, and the Bengals are so cheap and dysfunctional that many of those monuments are still all over town. They aren’t, like, impossible to move, but no one can be bothered to remove them, steal them, or anything. They just sit there silently mocking the team that paid for them to honor themselves.


I am still, to this day, holding out hope that John Ross can be an explosive wide receiver. Fuck me with a cheese coney.


AJ Green tore up his foot in the dumbest possible way. During a road-show exhibition practice, the Bengals stopped at Welcome Stadium in Dayton. Welcome Stadium is a toilet that plays host to the FCS-level Dayton Flyers football team and to the woefully underfunded Dayton Public School system. I wouldn't feel comfortable driving a tractor on that field. The Bengals let their franchise player out there unsupervised. 

But not a lot of people know why Cincinnati was on that field in the first place. Dayton, an hour north of Cincinnati, was the home of the first NFL game in 1920. Last year being the 100th anniversary of the league, Cincinnati tried to participate in the festivities by hosting their practice session at the location of said game - Triangle Park, just north of downtown. However, the turf field that the NFL planned to build at the Triangle Park site never actually got off the ground. Why not? An archeological survey revealed that Triangle Park is possibly the home of a significant Native American burial ground. 


I am on the fucking Bengals subreddit where dudes are literally describing the orgasms they're having watching Joe Burrow run onto the practice field. That's all it takes to get this pathetic fanbase ready to shell out $400 for a pair of tickets to watch Paul Brown's crowning achievement get skullfucked by Lamar Jackson.

Bobby Hart has been a revelation this offseason. This anti-vaxxer, conspiracy peddling, anti-Semitic piece of fuck still has two years and $12 million bucks coming his way to easily be the worst right tackle in the NFL. I wish Elon Musk would launch this waste of oxygen to Neptune or something.


Anyone who expects Dollar Store Sean McVay to turn this half-digested bowl of Skyline into a competitive team is a chump. The Dalton/Green heyday is over and things will never be so good again. Reread that last sentence. There is no reason for me to even care about them, I just happened to be living in Cincinnati when I got into watching football. Another time in my life and it would have been Washington or Jacksonville, and you know what? That might have been a fucking improvement.

Everyone still has the energy to be mad about That Game against the Steelers because nothing worth remembering has happened to this franchise since then. January 9th, 2016, was the day we finally got the answer to the question WHO DEY and the answer was, is, and always will be: themselves.  


Last season I reveled in the Bengals' crapulence. It was a refreshing and far overdue return to form. Last in our division? Good. Worse than Cleveland? I am fine with this. Worst record in the league? Bring it. 

They completely delivered on all of that and I was at peace. Because when this team has done well in the past, it filled me with anxiety and dread. You just KNEW that it will all be for absolutely nothing. 


Week 1, I brought my 4 month old daughter to a loud obnoxious bar so that we could watch our first Bengals game together. The refs completely fucked the Bengals out of a final play to try and win against the Seahawks, so she got the full experience. We didn't watch any other games live. 


Even if there was no rona and our country wasn't in (more) shambles, I guarantee Zac Taylor would run Joe Burrow’s career into the dirt by ensuring the guy would have exactly .67 seconds to pass on every down due to our awful o-line being about as sturdy as Dollar Store toilet paper after a night of Taco Bell and Jameson.

Zac Taylor will go 2-13-1 and get re-upped to the year 2067 because when Mike Brown squints really hard he sees Sean McVay.


I'm a Bengals fan from Arkansas, a feat so odd that when I was in high school I was outnumbered by not just Cowboys, Steelers, Pats, and Saints fans, but by Chargers, Redskins, and even Browns fans - and this was the year they went 1-15 followed by 0-16. Also, as of this writing, I've never even met another Bengals fan, period. 

I'd hoped things would get better when I started going to college in Illinois last year. But I had an epiphany the first game of the past season, when they came back to beat the Colts. I was waiting to see my professor and had been wildly refreshing my feed as time ran out. When they won, I jumped up and down and cried out excitedly. But then I looked up. There was nobody around, or even on the same floor of the building (my prof had yet to show up). There was nobody else to share this moment with me. Nobody to rejoice with, nobody to high-five, or even to ask me why I'd been so happy. Just the walls and the books and a clock ticking away slowly. 

That's my fandom in a nutshell. Me watching the team in a corner of a building, with nobody to share in the moments of glory and heartbreak, as the impassive world passes me by. I'll always be a Bengals fan, but sometimes, as I sit there quietly, I wonder why. 


When I was a sophomore in high school, my dad came to pick me up from school at like 8pm one night. I threw my stuff in the back and got in the front seat. I looked over and there were tears streaming down my dad's face. I have seen him cry few enough times in my life that I can count them on one hand, so I knew something was seriously wrong. He locked eyes with me, and started sobbing as he told me that as he was backing out of the driveway to pick me up that night, he hit our four year old dog and killed her instantly. I sat shellshocked for most of the 15 minute drive home before I started crying too. We returned home to my mom cradling our little puppy's broken body and my younger siblings absolutely distraught. We drove her to the vet together that night, where my mom took her in and came out empty-handed. The house was a little quieter for a long time after that.

Like, two months later, was the Meltdown at Paul Brown. With a minute to go in the game, I felt the most unadulterated, indescribable joy I had ever felt as a sports fan. My entire family was bouncing off the walls in glee. You know the rest. Jeremy Hill fumbled. Ben's limp noodle of an arm somehow still worked. Vontaze Burfict continued his quest to mash Antonio Brown's brain into a fine paste. 18-16, Steelers. Ever since 2015, I've joked that my worst, most gut-wrenching moment of that year was that game, rather than the night my dad hit the dog with the car. But I've never really been sure if I'm joking. 


We will never beat the Steelers again.


They wasted AJ Green's career insisting that Andy Dalton was an NFL starting QB and now both of his ankles are crabmeat held together with chicken wire and duct tape.

They stuck by Marvin Lewis for 16 fucking years and after they finally got the nerve to kick Chuckles to the curb, they hired this Howdy Doody looking teenager who immediately made them somehow even worse.

They were the first team in almost 20 years picking #1 in the draft who were subjected to national calls for the consensus top pick to refuse to play for them. The Browns never even got that treatment. Ever. And now they have the nerve to draft Drew's bastard son and make me actually care about this sorry ass franchise again and all I'm ever going to get for it is a decade of 7-9 seasons if I'm lucky.

Fuck this team with Donald Trump's diseased dick.

Submissions for the NFL previews are already closed, alas. Next up: Washington Football Team

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