Why you should root for the Cincinnati Bengals

Adam Rank

Interested in rooting for one of the NFL's 32 teams -- but don't know where to start? Adam Rank has you covered with this series, which will present a handy guide to becoming an instantly rabid fan of each organization in the league. Below, find out why you should root for the Cincinnati Bengals.

What you need to know so you don't sound stupid
Cris Collinsworth. Delightful man. I served as his ghostwriter on NFL.com for a number of years. Actually, "ghostwriter" was a bit of a misnomer in this instance.


Some ex-jocks need a ghostwriter because their raw copy can be a little, uh, rough. And that's fine. I mean, you wouldn't expect me to go out there and run a 4.29 40 or something. (But, I was pretty fast.) Collinsworth needed no such prodding. I'd call him on Tuesday mornings, exchange small talk for a few and then he would start talking for 20 minutes and it would be pristine copy. It was weird, too, because he had the same cadence and voice you'd hear on TV. And I'll be honest: Sometimes that can be a bit jarring when you're on the other end of the phone. Like, Hey, an actual celebrity is talking to me, or that his announcer voice is his same voice. I don't know why I feel this way, but I do. Crazy, I know.

One time we were doing a Thanksgiving feature and I was to ask him which three people he'd want to have Thanksgiving dinner with. I don't remember the first two people, but his third was Joe Montana. Which seemed odd.

Why Joe?

And Cris said something to the effect of, "Well, just the sight of him would make me lose my appetite and I wouldn't overeat."

All right then. I didn't expect that answer, but I get his sentiment. And this wouldn't be the only time Collinsworth would make little snide remarks about Montana. Not in a mean way. More self-deprecating (as you would imagine) and self-aware. But still, not a huge fan of Montana.


The Bengals have been to two Super Bowls during the club's 50-year history. Montana beat them both times. Cincy was leading late in Super Bowl XXIII before Montana spotted John Candy in the crowd and rallied the Niners in the final three minutes.

Even during that game, one of Collinsworth's teammates said "We got 'em now." Collinsworth shot back, "Have you taken a look at who is quarterback of the 49ers?"

That is as close as the Bengals have come to Super Bowl glory. They don't even have an AFL title to hang their hat on like some of these other franchises (looking at you, Chargers). The Bengals' history can be wrapped up in a few near-misses thanks in no small part to Joe Montana, so I think we get Collinsworth here.

Paul Brown
Well, the Bengals really didn't get a chance to win an AFL title because they joined in 1968 with an eye on being an NFL team. The team was formed by Paul Brown, who was given the boot by then-Browns owner Art Modell. (And for those of you keeping score at home, yes, Modell fired the dude the team was named after and eventually moved the team.)

Brown patterned the Bengals' uniforms after the Browns -- hey, Vince Lombardi did this when he coached the Redskins in his final year -- but they had a basic orange helmet that said "Bengals." The current helmets are pretty cool.


The Cincinnati Bengals are a franchise without an identity, much less a golden age. If not for a few twists of fate, the banks of the Ohio River would be commonly viewed as offensive football's fertile crescent.
The Cincinnati Bengals are a franchise without an identity, much less a golden age. If not for a few twists of fate, the banks of the Ohio River would be commonly viewed as offensive football's fertile crescent.
And even though the Bengals have never won a title, they are hugely important to the NFL because one-time assistant Bill Walsh came up with the Ohio River offense, best known today as the West Coast offense. And later, another offensive coordinator (Bruce Coslet) came up with the no-huddle offense.

And then there was Sam Wyche, who did this. (I don't know why he's haunted by this.)

See, the Bengals certainly do matter.

Don't ever bring up
Joe Montana! At least to Collinsworth. But let's talk about the 2015 wild-card game against the Steelers. Holy (expletive), this was not a lot of fun. I mean, as a non-biased observer, even I couldn't watch this. And I love watching uncomfortable humor. Like "Louie." Love that show. But this game made me feel sick to my stomach. It was like watching a brutal ending to a UFC match that will stick with you for a long time, where you are just uncomfortable.


Cincinnati went ahead on AJ McCarron's touchdown pass to A.J. Green (the team had lost quarterback Andy Dalton to a broken thumb in December) late in the fourth. And then Vontaze Burfict picked off a Landy Jones pass (Ben Roethlisberger was sidelined at the time by an in-game injury) and the thing looked like it was over. Honestly, the celebration of this play was a little much. Hold your (expletive) together. You're still the Bengals. And sure enough, Jeremy Hill fumbled on the next play and, well, you've seen this movie before. The Bengals lose. To the Steelers. And they have to suffer the indignity of listening to Steelers fans run their mouths. (But you had to really feel great for the long-suffering Pittsburgh fans ...)

This is a tough one, too. It was the franchise's fifth straight playoff appearance -- all of them one-and-dones -- but you knew this one was going to have a hangover. Well, I knew it. Not a lot of Bengals fans agreed with me. (Well, they won six games, so maybe they exceeded expectations.)

I saw red
Two of the best quarterbacks in club history have been redheads. So you're saying the Bengals have a type? The current quarterback, Andy Dalton, is one of my favorite dudes in the league. He came by the network here in the run-up to his draft. He's a pretty good chap. Affable and has a nice, dry sense of humor. I think he was spot-on his summation of the series "Lost."

Oh, yeah: He's good at throwing the football, too. He struggled last year, but put that on the injuries to his supporting cast. And if you're one of those inclined to play fantasy football (you should, it's fun), look for him to once again flirt with the top five this year.

This dude is fast
The Bengals selected John Ross with the ninth overall pick in the 2017 NFL Draft. Questionable according to some, but the dude can fly. Just watch.


Right? RIGHT?!

The dude can fly, like some Barry Allen stuff right there. And the Bengals certainly need it. The team was fraught with injuries last year -- a much-needed infusion of speed and a legit No. 2 receiver is just what the doctor ordered for this offense, which struggled in 2016.

A juggling act
A.J. Green is one of my favorite players in the league right now. Not only is he super dope at "Halo" (and I guess football, too), but the guy is an expert juggler. No, not just on the field with catches like this.

I'm talking about serious juggling.

Rogues gallery
I don't want to be flippant, but it's important to note the Bengals have become known as a franchise that gives guys a second chance. And I don't want to make it seem super campy, like I'm cheering for Leonard Snart or something. (From "The Flash," as expertly played by Wentworth Miller.)


The Bengals made a polarizing choice of Joe Mixon in this year's draft. He was caught on video tape punching a woman while he was an undergrad at Oklahoma. The Bengals certainly feel that he's learned from his mistake, and famed broadcaster Brent Musburger drew fire for his comments during a bowl game and fired back at his critics.

Mixon will no doubt be a hot-button issue for the Bengals for quite some time.

Ickey shuffle
The touchdown celebration dance of Elbert "Ickey" Woods has new life. Thanks in no small part to a string of television ads. Now that the NFL has put the fun back in the end zone, I hope the Bengals can bring this celebration out of the mothballs. Make it happen, John Ross.

Not enough credit
I'd have to say Ken Anderson. Clearly, his numbers don't jump out at you, especially compared to today's numbers. It's like when you put on a pair of Chuck Taylor's and wonder how people put these shoes on and didn't tear an Achilles or something. But Anderson was a four-time Pro Bowler. He threw for more than 30,000 yards back in the day when that was a big number. Seriously, a lot of quarterbacks from that era were figured to be Hall of Fame locks if they got to 25,000 passing yards. Andy Dalton has already thrown for 22,214 yards in his career. It's crazy, man.

Way overrated
Cris Collinsworth's haters. He's one of the best in the business at what he does, and I don't get why people hate on him. (And yes, I'm obviously biased.)

Hipster jersey

It's got to be Ochocinco, no? Everybody thinks of Chad Johnson for his off-the-field antics and whatnot. I mean, the dude did change his name legally to Ochocinco. But he was a damn-good receiver during his time. He topped 1,000 receiving yards in six consecutive seasons and led the NFL with 1,369 in 2006. But yeah, his persona robs him of the credit as a pretty decent receiver. I'd opt for the "Johnson" name plate over "Ochocinco."

The franchise's best
Anthony Munoz is considered perhaps the greatest lineman in NFL history, so it figures he would be considered the franchise's all-time best. He was selected as a Pro Bowler in 11 straight seasons, earning first-team All-Pro status in nine of those years. And as a fun fact, he added seven receptions for four touchdowns on tackle-eligible plays.

Closing fun fact
The Bengals almost ended up in Columbus, but a fit was found in Cincinnati because the baseball Reds were seeking a new home. And multipurpose stadiums were all the rage in the 1970s (for reasons I could never figure out).

Final snap
The Bengals should be fun to watch. Although, it can be excruciating in the playoffs. As well as Marv Lewis has done to get his team to the playoffs, he hasn't directed the team to a single playoff win (0-7). But with Dalton, Green, a healthy Tyler Eifert and Ross, the Bengals should be able to throw the ball. The defense is solid, as well. But again, this will be a polarizing team for sure.

Follow Adam Rank on Twitter @AdamRank.

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