Monday, September 30, 2002

Bengals good for laughs if not points

        The critics agree: Bengals are a riot! They are better than Robin Williams. Better than Steve Martin. Better than Cedric the Entertainer, shaking up the beer in that TV commercial. They're better than seltzer water, banana peels and Jerry Seinfeld. They're better than Carrot Top. They're a whole lot better than that guy.

        You laugh, you cry. Your choice, Bengals Fan. The realization might have occurred to you by now. You can admire the hearts of Brian Simmons and Takeo Spikes, the will of Corey Dillon.

        Apologies to any Bengals we missed who continue to play with purpose and passion. Admire them, too, whoever they are.

        But it's time to take the turn from tragedy to comedy and to realize that nothing will change until the way the Bengals are run changes, so what's the point of getting all worked up?

        Headache or bellylaugh?

        Why not watch your team the way you once watched The Three Stooges or The Honeymooners? To the moon, Mike!

        Draw your personal curtain on seeing the Bengals as a weekly drama. They're strictly for grins. They're better than Friends. Better than Raymond, better than The King of Queens, though not by much. That guy is really funny. Better than Bernie Mac, who is hilarious but still not as funny as Al Roberts' special teams.

        How 'bout those guys on Sunday? One time, they had 12 men on the field - and still gave up a 36-yard punt return! Another time, they had 10 on the field. Once last Sunday, they had 10. On the Cincinnati sideline, Dick LeBeau could be heard asking, “Whose turn was it to bring the abacus?”

        Poor Akili Smith. He was sent in to change things. The Bengals hoped he'd be Gary Cooper in High Noon, or at least Vin Diesel. He was Wile E. Coyote. Warren Sapp was in his waistband all day, dropping Acme anvils on his head.

        Don't blame Smith. He just got promoted this week from running other teams' offenses. The Bengals gave him the ball because, beyond firing LeBeau, they had nothing else to do.

        They need to let Smith play the rest of the year - more comedy! - but they probably won't. As Smith explained, “They want to win now.”

        Cue the laugh track.

        The Bengals have scored 16 points on offense. That's four per game. Tampa Bay runs the West Coast offense, typified by a short, controlled passing game. The Bengals run the West Nile offense typified, according to the Centers for Disease Control, by “sudden, painless paralysis” without any stroke symptoms. Severe cases can produce “stupor, disorientation and coma.”

        If this describes you as a Bengals fan, for God's sake, get yourself tested.

        “I think we'll come out of it,” LeBeau decided.

        Why, Dick? Why would you think that? You've been outscored 119-23. You've led Pickett's Charge for four weeks, general. Your defense has been on the field longer than flying hunks of Paul Brown Stadium sod. Your offense moves like rush hour.

        Your special teams need a new abacus.

        You declined a penalty Sunday at the end of the first half that would have given your offense one more chance at the end zone. There is no coming out of it, coach. There is only comedy.

        They are better than Laverne, to say nothing of Shirley. Better than Archie, better than a whoopee cushion, better than John Belushi in a toga and Chevy Chase strapping grandma to the roof of the Family Truckster. Way better than Chris Farley (a Belushi knock-off) and neck-and-neck with Chris Rock, who is one funny dude.

        Hey, Moe: Bengals? Or Jay Leno? Bengals, definitely. Leno needs the Bengals to make people laugh.

        There's a message to Bengals fans there, somewhere.


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- DAUGHERTY: Bengals good for laughs if not points
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Miami 48, Akron 31
Ohio State 45, Indiana 17
Florida 41, Kentucky 34
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The Week Ahead in High School Sports

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