You know that you play for a team that really sucks when players are wary of going out in public. Such is life when you are a member of the moribund Cincinnati Bengals, who are rushing headlong towards an 0-16 season. The Bengals have been worse for longer than any other team in the NFL.
The 0-6 Bengals are ripped in newspaper headlines, laughed at on sports radio shows and ridiculed on television every week. But what about in the community, where players lead daily lives and visit grocery stores, pharmacies and restaurants?
“For me, it's embarrassing,” said linebacker Adrian Ross, “because I think we're a better team than that.”
Embarrassing or not, Bengals players still have to make the occasional trip into the public realm, be it alone or with their families. Most don't mind the attention that comes with being a professional athlete, and say people appreciate the team even when it's losing. Some players, however, would rather not be associated with the Bengals at a time like this, even if people ask them what they do for a living.
“I don't tell them football,” said running back Brandon Bennett. “A lot of times, you get people who just want to talk and talk and talk, especially with the current (losing) situation. I just tell them I come here on business. I don't say exactly what my job is. Then you're not lying.”
Bennett said he tries to avoid football conversations.
“You do run into some people, though,” he said. “And you just try to keep it short. You say, "We don't enjoy losing. We're trying to get better and working hard.' The majority of the people like that really don't know about football anyway.”
Just how bad have things become in Cincinnati? The team is so bad that the Hamilton County Commissioners are studying whether or not they can sue the Bengals for failing to field a competitive team.
County commissioners unanimously agreed Wednesday to send the Bengals' stadium lease to the prosecutor's office for a legal opinion on whether the team has violated the agreement by failing to field a competitive team.
Todd Portune received support from fellow commissioners John Dowlin and Tom Neyer to ask Hamilton County Prosecutor Mike Allen to review the lease.
“They are asking for a legal opinion on the viability of taking legal action,” Allen said.
Portune brought up the issue Wednesday morning at a commission meeting at Finneytown High School. He referred to a sentence in the lease that says the one-half percent increase in the county's sales tax was needed to “keep competitive and viable major league football and baseball teams in Cincinnati by construction of a new football stadium in Hamilton County.”
Said Portune, “Has the long losing record of poor performances on the field risen to violate the express or implied conditions of the agreement?”
The Brown family has for years run the Bengals into the ground, to the point where they have become the laughing stock of the NFL. It's sad to see what has become of a franchise that has two Super Bowls to it's credit. Every professional league has it's doormat- MLB has the Tampa Bay Devil Rays, the NBA has the Denver Nuggets, and the NHL has the Tampa Bay Lightning. Everyone wants to win, but the reality is that every winner requires a loser. Fans don't want to pay major league prices to watch ineptitude. Unfortunately for the good folks of Cincinnati, enforced ineptitude seems to be the Brown family speciality