On the Nightmarish Debacle

Embed from Getty Images

That’s the view of Cincinnati as one approaches from the Kentucky side of the river on I-75. Paul Brown Stadium is on the left – home of the Cincinnati Bengals.

I didn’t plan this post, but events in recent days motivated this post. Some are curious on my take of the craziness that was the Bengals-Steelers game at the stadium this past weekend. After all, some readers told me they thought of me during and after the game. So, pardon me as I stray from my normal routine in order to get things off my chest. My audience isn’t sports-based, but they know I enjoy sports.

It’s been interesting to read and hear the trashing aimed at the team, it’s coaches and players, the city, and the fans. I try to go beyond the surface where most of the comments reside. Most of the national press doesn’t tell the reaction here … the reaction by the fans, players, coaches, and writers. Actually, the news here has been much deeper and profound than most of the commentaries from anywhere else … and certainly including the Pittsburgh paper that I’ve purposefully read.

To loyal fans, this loss not only hurt, it left us frustrated and embarrassed. After all, we’ve been waiting for the next playoff win since 1991. Bottom line – the Bengals lost, and the Steelers won. Since the game ended, the city, the fans, the coaches, the players, the organization, those attending the game, and anyone I’ve left out has been battered and bruised by many … as if losing wasn’t enough.  So here’s a Cincinnati perspective – a reasonable one – an honest one – and one not filled with fan bias.

Two Bengal players lost their composure. They let their emotions overcome professionalism. No excuses because one must take responsibility for their own actions. Take the Bengal who fumbled late in the game. He’s feels the weight of all the subsequent events on his shoulders – yet accepts the blame.

A Bengal player who made the flagrant hit on a Steelers receiver near the end of the game. Unnecessary and horrific! The NFL suspended him for three games – but for this fan, that is not enough.

Referees are responsible for controlling the game, enforcing the rules, and protecting the players. The referees tried to control the game, but they let get away from them by the judgmental decisions they make. There were two clear instances of Bengals being targeted with helmet-to-helmet, but neither called. Helmet-to-helmet contact is in the rules, but like any rule, enforcement is left to the judgment of the enforcer. These misgivings by the referees increased tensions, not defusing them.

Are coaches responsible for the actions of their players? Absolutely, but not totally. Coaches don’t run, pass, catch, or tackle. They don’t interfere, jump off-sides, or fumble. They try to teach players the right way. It’s important they create the balance for a competitive environment. In the end, it’s on the players to execute their tasks and be responsible for their behavior. Bengals Coach Marvin Lewis is a respectful coach, and he certainly isn’t about disrespectful and irresponsible behavior. I wonder if those head coaches even exist.

A certain Steelers assistant coach frequently harasses opposing players … and on the crazy play in the final 30 seconds, he was on the field around Bengals players (yes, a clear violation of Rule 13, Section 1, Article 8). For whatever reason, no penalty was called (another referee judgment that would have offset the second Bengal penalty during the incident.). Keep in mind that when this coach was a player, referees threw him out of a game before it even started.

The NFL has created a macho-fan culture that leads to disrespect, harassment, and even violence. It’s not just in Cincinnati, it’s league wide. Finding fan-on-fan incidents is easy, let alone the throwing of batteries, beer bottles, snowballs, and whatever is available – and let’s not forget verbal abuse. The NFL, in their ever-pursuit of maximizing revenue, scheduled a playoff game between two bitter rivals on a Saturday night – thus creating an opportunity for an all-day tailgating experience. Not a good idea.

The majority of the players on both teams are good people, thus are not representative by the stupid. Anyone thinking that the Bengals organization is a house for thugs is extremely misinformed. Outside of the game, more players make the news because of bad off-the-field behavior than good – but those players are a small percentage of the whole – and this is true in all NFL cities – so is the fact that the good guys get involved in the community. After their playing careers are over, many stay in that city and remain good examples. Others return to their hometowns to build a successful life.

The majority of the fans in the stands are good people, not represented by the people jeering or throwing objects at an injured player. Sports fans can be terrible, and anyone thinking that bad fan behavior in the NFL is limited to Cincinnati is either naive or misinformed. As do the majority of fans across the nation, Cincinnatians condemn the behaviors of the few.

In the end, I think about these what-ifs. What if the Steelers  assistant coach would have been penalized, and the Steelers lost the game?

  • Would there be talk about the Steelers head coach who couldn’t control two assistants who received misconduct penalties?
  • Would anyone be talking about the two Steelers players who danced on the field while a Bengal player lay motionless on the ground?
  • Would anyone be talking about the Steelers hits to the head if they were called?

I think not … but as I said to others starting the day after the game, there is a lot of blame to go around on this one – and they all should not be pointed to Cincinnati. Interestingly, Cincinnati has owned up to their role – something that none of the other parties have done – not the NFL, not the referees, and not the Pittsburgh coaches, players, or organization.

On Party Onion Dip

I know, I know … I said I was taking a break, and I really am – BUT, with the Super Bowl this coming weekend, I couldn’t resist dipping into The Onion’s archives for some related headlines – or as I like to think – here’s some Onion Dip for your Super Bowl party.

For my non-US readers, the Super Bowl is one of the most-watched television events as many people gather for parties – thus the prices for commercials are quite expensive. Actually, the commercials will get considerable discussion – thus the inclusion of a video.

The game itself will be the first ever Super Bowl involving each team (San Francisco and Baltimore) coached by two brothers. Will you be attending a Super Bowl party?

No need to combine any headlines, so do you have a favorite from the list below? Meanwhile, this time for sure, no more new posts from me during my break … but I’ll reply here … well, for a little …. and I really do mean it this time – I’m taking a break.

NFL coaches admit having to punt sucks

ESPN shows family film of young Harbaugh brothers coaching together in backyard

Two dogs from same litter to coach 2013 Puppy Bowl

Pre-game coin toss makes player realize randomness of life

John Madden eats RV

Referee frustrated over number of commercials shown in replay booth

Super Bowl matchup rekindles smoldering resentment of San Francisco-Baltimore war of 1877

NFL player works out often

Commissioner proposes eliminating ball from NFL

Referee disallows touchdown after dropping ball handed to him by player

Mothers of NFL players concerned about binge drinking on bottom of pile

Area man thinking up funny things to say at Super Bowl party

Voices in headset calling coach “Idiot”

Hungry defense feeds on crowd

Super Bowl Party Tip: Pre-soak Doritos in beer

On Opinions in the Shorts: Vol. 83

On an Upcoming Post
I only occasionally post on weekends. Since tomorrow deserves a special post, I hope you stop by this Saturday or Sunday.

On Palin Moments
Soon after the Arizona shootings, some pundits were quick to point to Sarah Palin and he heated rhetoric as the cause – and to that fact, she should have (and did) speak to those unfounded accusations. Let us keep in mind that defending herself does not protect her from saying something bad, stupid, or wrong.

Regarding Sarah Palin, I appreciated this op-ed by conservative columnist Ross Douthat (New York Times), which happens to be loaded with good quotes. As the media continues to treat her as the one we can’t get enough her, let us not forget that she is a nincompoop.

On a Few Political Shorts

  • This USA Today article regarding President Obama’s first two years is worthwhile.
  • GOP leadership’s decision to decline an invitation to the State dinner for China’s President Hu was not a good decision. Cheers to Gov. Chris Christie (R-NJ) for accepting the invitation. Boo to Harry Reid for his comments and absence.
  • The GOP repeal of health care has crossed the first hurdle, which is fine as long as it ensures coverage for more people at a lower cost to the government.
  • Occasionally the Fairness Doctrine comes into discussions, especially around talk radio. Emma wrote this informative post about the doctrine, which also includes some history and some personal commentary.

On an Impacting Exhibit
While celebrated Martin Luther King Day this past Monday, reflecting on my own thoughts and behaviors kindled memories of a wonderful traveling exhibit I attended called Understanding Race, which I wrote about in 2009. Good news is that the exhibit schedule goes into 2013 with 2011 stops in Boston, Charlotte, Washington, New Orleans, and Santa Barbara.

On Connecting NFL Coaches
UC also has interesting ties to the NFL playoffs. Going into last weekend, head coaches of 3 of the 4 remaining AFC teams were UC assistants. With John Harbaugh’s Raven’s loss, Rex Ryan (Jets) and Mike Tomlin (Steelers) will battle this weekend to see which former UC assistant makes it to the Super Bowl.

On the Movies

  • True Grit is worth seeing. Jeff Bridges is great as Rooster Cogburn, but for me, youngster Hailee Steineld carried the movie.
  • Anne Hathaway, announced as the next Catwoman in Batman, is an intriguing thought to imagine.
  • Yet-to-be-released (1 April 2011) Source Code created interest in this trailer.

Have a safe weekend and hope you stop by for the special post.

On a Tragic Bengal

Cincinnati Bengals Chris Henry’s death was tragic. There is no doubt that he had issues, but he was sincerely trying to improve. At certainly was not at the pinnacle of human behavior, he vastly improved from where he was.

After he broke his wrist in the Baltimore game, I immediately wondered what would happen to him. After all, football gave him two things that he needed and used: structure (through the disciplines of being on an NFL team) and support (through the other players who sincerely watched and helped him). To me, the fact that the accident happened in Charlotte speaks volumes about my thoughts.

The reaction by two individuals and one general group caught my attention. The group were the many who were very against him in the past suddenly did an about face. You know the type, so elaboration is not necessary.

Many often criticize team owner Mike Brown for the franchise’s low achievement. I have often said that two of his biggest faults and two of his strengths are qualities that most people want in others: loyalty and opportunity – the latter being giving another chance to someone because he saw the positive that could come out. Regarding this accident, I am sure Mr. Brown hurts.

It was also interesting to watch Chad Ochocinco. For all his self-center antics, there is no question in my mind that Chad felt a deep loss. The game in San Diego is the first one I can remember when Chad did not bring attention to himself. The guy who would rather pay a fine for doing something goofy after scoring instead of donating to a charity, stayed focus on the team and his fallen teammate. Maybe it took Chris Henry to show give Chad some perspective on life.

On Opinions in the Shorts: Vol. 26

On Air France 447
My thoughts and prayers go out to everyone impacted by this catastrophe.  I hope the families and friends of the victims find closure.

On Hurricane Season
Hurricane season officially started June 1. Given the names are already determined, it is interesting to note consecutive names P and R: Peter Rose. Click here to see all the names.

On Cheney and Gay Marriage
Dick Cheney’s recent stand on gay marriage rights must make political niche cringe. With that in mind, and I agree with him or not, I admire his courage on making the statement. I agree with him that it’s a state issue, thus not a national issue. On the other hand, I’ll ask this question: Is it a state issue or a church issue?

On the Republican Message
Kathleen Parker, one of my favorite columnists, uses a fire-breathing carnival analogy to demonstrate a point about a GOP message in this column.

On Evolution and Religion
As part of my continued quest to learn more about the complementary nature of evolution and religion, I just finished reading Responses to 101 Questions about God and Evolution by Dr. John Haught, a Roman Catholic theologian at Georgetown University. Dr. Haught was one of the theologians who testified at the trial involving Dover (PA) Schools and Intelligent Design (Kitzmiller vs Dover Area Schools). Here’s the transcript.

On an Economic Retrospect
In a recent column, economist Paul Krugman looks back at various economic aspects of the Reagan administration. I recall wondering then if banking deregulation was the right thing to do.

On the Super Bowl
Several months ago the NFL announced they are considering playing a Super Bowl in Europe. No offense to Europeans, but I didn’t like the idea then and I don’t like it now. Just as a reminder to all, it’s all about the money.

On 232 – 118 – 88
A $232 million dollar PowerBall winner taking the cash option gets $118 million, but after taxes walks away with $88 million. That’s what happened to South Dakotan Neil Wanless – a young, hard-luck farmer living by a shoestring. Yet he pledges to repay those he owes multifold and life of not squandering his winnings. Congratulations Neil, and I hope you life your dream while being an example to others.

As an avid watcher of Dancing with the Stars, belated congratulations to Shawn Johnson for her win and maintaining a strong presence for Olympians.

On Two Movies

  • Star Trek – A fun movie to see. Thumbs up
  • Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian – Interesting, great animations.

On a Commercial
Whether playing in band all the way through my university days to my current involvement in a handbell choir, or my general appreciation of many music genres, music has been part of my life ever since my elementary school days many years ago.

Although music programs are alive for our youth, some schools face cutting music for financial reasons. Since 1997 VH1 has promoted its Save the Music Foundation aimed at restoring instrumental music in schools. I recently saw this very enjoyable commercial for the foundation at a local theater. Gotta love it!