by D.F. Leister
I was born and raised in Houston, moved to San Antonio in high school, went to college in Cincinnati, lived in Brazil for a decade, lived in Cincinnati briefly in high school, and now live in San Antonio again. My fan allegiance is fairly unique as I love the Texans, the Astros, the Spurs, the University of Cincinnati, like very much the Brazilian National Soccer Team, and I almost love the Bengals.
Influenced by a Luv-Ya-Blue grandmother, I loved watching Warren Moon light up scoreboards, and while visiting Cincinnati in high school, I once attended a cold game at former Riverfront Stadium, where Jerry Glanville’s Oilers shot their mouths off one time too many and got rolled by the host Bengals. That year I would also get my maiden look at heart-wrenching fan devastation at a Bengals Super Bowl party in Cincinnati, watching in disbelief as Joe Montana improbably drove the 49’ers the length of the field in the waning minute to stun the Bengals. Correct that, this is the Bengals, so Montana’s feet was anything but stunning. I’ll try heartstabbing instead.
When the Oilers deserted Houston, my team officially became the Bengals. Absolutely zero chance of me supporting Bud Adams and his columbia blue Titans. I suffered through Akili Smith, Ki-Jana Carter’s blown out knee, Dick Lebeau’s lifeless teams and Mike Brown’s stinginess. While living in Brazil starting in 1999, live streaming wasn’t an option, so I followed every Bengals game via ESPN Gamecast, being disappointed yet unsurprised by the outcomes around 70% of the time.
Once, in 2002, I published an article criticizing Cincinnati management and team direction, even claiming that the nascent Houston Texans would sniff the playoffs long before the Bengals. A sports editor at the Cincinnati Enquirer told me that he agreed with my prediction, although my forecast eventually would be proved fruitless. I had officially become part of the hoard of Bungle Nation. The bungle reference is no insult to Bengals fans, for there is no fan base more loyal and longsuffering than those who truly rep the real Jungle, hence I'm not referencing Jim Rome here. I’m talking about a franchise in a league of parity, which has teased and crushed fans since that terrible day back in January 1989. The true Bungles have been team management and their (un)scouting department.
Like I said, I like the Bengals very much, but I love the Texans. I feel for Bengals fans and have shared in seemingly countless disappointments both on and off the field. With the Texans nowhere near the playoffs in 2005 and 2009, I shared in the heartbreaking disappointment of Kimo Von Knee Snapper’s dirty shot on Carson Palmer, which not only altered Palmer’s career, but ruined a legitimate Super Bowl opportunity for the longsuffering Bengals nation.
Yep, indeed I do care about those doggone Bengals and sympathize with those fans who routinely have their home stadium invaded by gold towel-waving Steelers fans, causing one to forget that the game is technically a home game for the poor fellas in orange and black.
Once the Texans came into existence, my heart allegiance naturally shifted. The true Texan and the ingrained love for Houston football I learned at such a young age just clung to these upstarts in deep steel blue and battle red. I shared in the thrill of a city when they stunned the Dallas Cowboys in their first ever game, a game which was televised in Brazil.
Now as fate would have it, the Texans and Bengals are about to square off at Reliant Stadium this Saturday. Two franchises with zero playoff wins in nearly twenty years, one of which has never even touched playoff territory. Their combined regular season records since their co-existence in my little football world? 136-183-1 and an 0’fer for the Bengals in their two playoff games. In a league of parity….need I say more?
So I’ll be rooting for Yates’ reads to be clean and Johnson’s hammy to hold up, and for Houston to advance toward the Gulf of Baltimore, which is the mouths of Terrell Suggs and Ray Lewis. But should Cincinnati pull off the road upset, the pain will certainly not be too great to keep me from dusting off my old Who Dey cap. Either way, one historical loser is about to turn the corner and set a higher winning standard. Although both Bengals and Texans fans deserve a winner, at least one of them is guaranteed to be smiling by Saturday night.
The last time an NFL team I care about won a playoff game was when Nevermind sat atop the charts and 56K modems would’ve been considered national treasures. Either Bengals or Oilers/Texans fans, both of whom epitomize the term longsuffering, are finally about to taste meaningful victory.
Finally, winning is about to happen.