Goodbye, Cincinnati

Dear Cincinnati Bengals,

You’ve broken my heart one too many times. I followed you through the bad years when you were in the top six of the draft order, when the season highlights were Chad Ochocinco’s celebrations, when Ryan Fitzpatrick was the signal-caller, when we had running backs such as Kenny Watson and Chris Perry and Dede Dorsey.

I rooted for you when you made the playoffs in 2009, only to lose to Mark Sanchez and the Jets in the first round, then watched in disappointment as you won four games the next season and then everybody important jumped ship. Then I watched with surprise as rookies Andy Dalton and A.J. Green led you to the playoffs. You lost, but you exceeded my expectations, so I was okay with that. Then you made the postseason again, and again, and again, and you lost again and again and again. You raised my hopes year after year, only to dash them against the postseason rocks. Somehow, I stuck with you in the vain hope that you would change, that you would win. You never did.

Then came January 9, 2016. That first-round playoff game against your hated rivals, the Pittsburgh Steelers. You had A.J. McCarron at QB because Dalton was out, so I didn’t expect much. Then the fourth quarter rolls around and you have a lead. I thought you were actually going to do it, that you were going to win your first playoff game since 1990.

Then you fell apart. All I could do was watch helplessly as you had a mental breakdown on national television. You lost the game as time expired.

It’s not me, it’s you. I can’t do this anymore. I need some time on my own, away from you. I want to seek out other options. Green Bay, Carolina, Denver. When you think you’ve changed, give me a call. But until then, stay away from me.

Oh, and Happy April Fools’ Day.

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