This was originally published in The Athletic .
If pressed to come up with just one word to describe what it’s been like to be a Bengals fan for nearly my entire life, the one I’ll use is limiting.
Yes, of all the creative adjectives I could use, the one I’ll go with is limiting. If you prefer to go with a synonym, you could use confining, or perhaps restricting. I’ll go with limiting.
Limiting, like the guy who never gets a date because he just knows that if he asks, he’ll get rejected.
Or like the old lady who’s had her fill of doing nothing but sitting at home, but who won’t ask her husband of three decades to finally take her on vacation, because she knows he’ll come up with reasons not to.
Maybe like the worker who never stays stuck in the same old job because he just knows what the answer will be if he pushes for a promotion.
Because there has always seemingly been a limit to what the Bengals will do in their efforts to win, there have always been limits to the ways we can talk about them. Discussions about things like the way they build a roster or ways in which the Bengals can pattern themselves after some of the more successful and cutting-edge franchises have always had to occur within the parameters set forth by a management that’s long been loathe to change and often that’s clung too tightly to the things they value.
The most common refrains can be recited in our sleep …
“The Bengals would never do that.”
“That’s not something the Bengals do.”
“Mike Brown doesn’t do things that way.”
To read the entire piece, go to The Athletic .
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