This was originally published in The Athletic...
I have one ironclad guarantee for tonight’s Bengals preseason opener against the Chicago Bears: This game at Paul Brown Stadium will be better than the last time PBS housed these two teams.
If you don’t remember that cold, ugly Sunday last December, when an injury-depleted Bengals team laid down in front of a lousy Bears team in a 33-7 loss, then good for you. I’ve been to all but a handful of Bengals home games over the last 20 years, and that one was the worst I’ve been to. That day marked the earliest I’ve ever left, departing in the third quarter so I could go home and start writing this blog about what I was missing at home in order to watch such ineptitude in person.
That game felt like it crystalized what we all thought was going to happen with Marvin Lewis, a prime example of why, after 15 years, it was just time for someone else to coach the team. Marvin, of course, has returned for another season, and you could argue that the following week’s loss – the now-infamous 34-7 rolling over against the Vikings in Minnesota – was actually a meeker Bengals performance. But when I think of the hopelessness of last season, and more importantly, when I think of how un-enjoyable last year’s Bengals team was to watch, I think of that game against the Bears.
Tonight might not be football at its finest, but it’ll be better than that disaster, and it will allow us to turn the page.
To read the entire piece, go to The Athletic.
(Photo: Getty Images)