For those of us who grew up a fan of the Cincinnati Bengals, life was tough. You try moving away after college, walking into a Pennsylvania bar and asking the gruff guy serving drafts if he could switch a TV to the Bengals game. “Bengals fan?,” a dirty local interjected in amazement. “I’ve never met a Bengals fan in real life,” he continued. That was like 2002. They won twice that year. So imagine how it feels to have Andy Dalton right now. The guy is married & has a cute dog.
As you all know, the Bengals always had to have the new BMW 500 series. The exciting cherry red Mercedes – convertible, of course.
1992 – David Klingler
1994 – Dan Wilkinson
1995 – Ki-Jana Carter
1999 – Akili Smith
2000 – Peter Warrick
2003 – Carson Palmer
You know how many playoff appearances those players combined for in their Bengals career? 1.
Combined. Do you realize what kind of reaction those names get you in Cincinnati? Hatred. Deep rooted hatred of 14 loss seasons that were over in late September.
Which brings us to January 2012 and the rise of Andy Dalton in Cincinnati. The guy is a rookie, barely being talked about. His wife, Jordan, can leave her Facebook open for the world and nobody bothers these Texans who were probably still in diapers when Boomer Esiason, James Brooks and Tim Krumrie got so close to that 1989 Super Bowl.
Dalton has a dog, Zoe. He seems to love that dog. He doesn’t drink. He isn’t shy about his love of God, yet doesn’t make a sideline scene. He lives in what seems like a humble Cincinnati house. He wears goofy shirts. He has that red hair. He eats chocolate frosting birthday cakes, for God’s sake.
What can go wrong here?
The guy doesn’t have a huge NFL contract over his head. He’s smart with the football. Let’s just say that if Andy Dalton ran for political office in ultra-conservative Hamilton County right now, he’d win in a landslide.
Bengals’ fan keeps waiting for the “well, it was bound to happen,” to happen. Just one playoff victory. ONE. And this guy is a hero. You win on the road this week, Dalton, and they’ll name parks and highways after your red headed ass. You go to Houston and get Bengals fan to the third Sunday in January and your ass will be bigger than Oscar Robertson.
Dammit, just one time. Give us that one year where we can have house parties, pull out our shirts and not be embarrassed to have the bar keep change the channel.
It’s not much to ask.