The consensus is pretty much the same. Outside of Cincinnati, many fans who claim to love football don’t like the Bengals. Many reasons abound that range from amazing to just silly. There are those who dislike the Bengals because they have stripes on their helmets. Some hate on the team because they play in Cincinnati. Then, there are those who hate the team just because. But, has that made the NFL disrespect the Bengals, as well?
It would be easy to dismiss the animosity as just a fluke. Every team tends to go through phases of unpopularity. Not so with the Bengals. Even bandwagon Bengals fans have been known to throw the team under the bus. It comes with the territory of being a fan that roots for the team. As revealed by Deasdspin, there are tons of Cincinnati fans that don’t even know why they root for Bengals anything.
The latest trend seems to be calling WILL linebacker Vontaze Burfict the dirtiest player in football. Burfict is not a saint. His troubled past at Arizona State will prove that to anyone going on a witch hunt. Yet, if the media hype wasn’t slanted towards him being the foulest linebacker in the league, he would be heralded as one of the toughest to play the position. Football has become soft. The rules change yearly.
The Bengals’ new linebackers coach would agree. He understands how the media can be one-sided. Jim Haslett can’t wait to work with Burfict. He let that be known, via ESPN.
“He’ll grow out of some of those things. Again, not knowing him, it’s hard for me to say, but I know how things get blown up. I hope I can do whatever I can to help him out and maybe even make him better.”
This is not an apologist agenda for Burfict. He’ll be fine. Still, the relationship between the league and the Bengals is truly interesting. The NFL seems to be falling in line with the media. Could that be the other way? The AFC Wild Card game was an atrocious exhibit of officiating and has been deemed one of the ugliest playoff games ever played.
NFL officials made many mistakes during that game. There were calls that affected the play for both teams. Yet, the majority of the bad calls went against the home team Bengals. Usually, the hosting team is the recipient of a little “home cooking” from the crew calling the game. But, the NFL was blatantly overt on January 9. From the officiating point of view, the Steelers seemed like the home team.
The first instance of disrespect was the Martavis Bryant touchdown catch. Dean Blandino, VP of the league’s officiating, said he wouldn’t have called it a catch. His statement from CBS Sports is right to the point.
“I don’t think this is a catch. If I just had a blank slate and I could say, do you think it’s a catch or not a catch? I would’ve said no catch.”
Blandino also tried to explain the lack of a flag on the Ryan Shazier hit that took Giovani Bernard out of the game. He claims it wasn’t called because the player had established himself as a runner. A strange thing happened on the way to the post-game quotes.
“If he has established himself as a runner – control, both feet, ability to ward off, attempt to avoid contact, that time element – if that time element has been met, then he can be contacted in the head,” Blandino said.
Aren’t there a slew of concussion lawsuits being filed against the NFL? Suddenly it’s okay to be “contacted” in the head at full speed? Does that really mean it’s okay to spear a player if he’s in a Bengals uniform? By simple deduction, it must be so. Bengals’ safety Shawn Williams was immediately flagged for a legal hit on Markus Wheaton. No one talks about that tackle, since it may lead to more concerns over biased officiating.
The NFL also admitted that Steelers coach Joey Porter should have been flagged for being on the field. The admission came from handing down a $10,000 fine. Thus, another missed call against the Bengals. Apologies are being given when it’s too late. It almost seems like they’re rubbing it in.
Maybe it’s just in the minds of those who cheer for the Orange and Black. But, it’s hard to ignore. The NFL seems to be doing a lot of backpedaling, when it comes to the Bengals.
[Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images]