This was originally published in The Athletic...
About a week and a half ago, two semi-trucks collided on the lower deck of the Brent Spence Bridge, which runs through downtown Cincinnati and connects Ohio and Kentucky on Interstate 75. The fiery crash has closed the bridge until further notice, and its aftermath has ignited a new series of questions about the structural viability of the 57-year-old bridge, which was deemed “functionally obsolete” by the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet more than 20 years ago. Given the long-standing questions about its safety, the crash and the subsequent shutdown have sparked a new line of questioning about the bridge’s long-term sustainability as an efficient and safe major highway artery.
I don’t know anything about bridges, but I know that people who do know a lot about them have been telling us for a while that it’s time to replace the Brent Spence. Its current closure is the result of an extremely unfortunate accident that could happen on any heavily-traveled highway, but the visual of the empty bridge and the daily inconvenience of crossing the Ohio River via less-efficient routes are appropriate and scary reminders of the things that could happen if the Brent Spence Bridge continues to suffer from neglect.
The visual of Joe Burrow being driven off the field after suffering an injury that not only ended his rookie campaign but effectively put an end to the part of the Bengals season that mattered is the reminder most of us didn’t need but got anyway: Here’s what happens when you don’t protect the investment:
(Photo: Patrick McDermott/Getty)
I know it’s easy to blame the Bengals offensive line and go off on the franchise’s longstanding inability to assemble and develop quality linemen. And yes, sometimes quarterbacks and their teams are simply unlucky. You can indeed only do so much to protect a quarterback — Carson Palmer and Andy Dalton both played behind top-notch lines when they suffered devastating injuries, illustrating that sometimes, shit just happens, you know?
The problem is that the images of Burrow writhing in pain and the incredible amount of concern in the aftermath of his injury are the realizations of not only every Bengals fan’s worst fears but the manifestation of something most of us dreaded because of its near inevitability. Could any of us have predicted the precise manner in which the Bengals’ most important player would suffer significant injury or the exact culprits at fault? Of course not. Was it ever that far-fetched to think that at some point, probably soon, Burrow would be given a ride on the back of a cart?
I think we know the answer.
To read the entire piece, go to The Athletic.