Wednesday, November 27, 2002

Columnist begs for mercy:
No more Bengals games

Writing about the Cincinnati Bengals is a mindless activity, like washing dishes or eating a bowl of soup. The outcome never changes, only the soup.

I once raked leaves for a reader rather than cover a Bengals game. Now I'd like to rake my own. Fall Sundays lost to mindless writing about a lousy football team are starting to stack up like cordwood.

I'd like to escape before the wood looks like a funeral pyre.

As a locally famous football coach once said, "There's golf to be played and tennis to be served up." I could still cover Bengals games. I'd rather not.

It's your call.

  Should Enquirer columnist Paul Daugherty cover the final four Bengals games? You decide. E-mail and tell Paul what you want him to do.
There's a little box next to this plea, with an e-mail address. Let me know: Am I a free man, released to a normal, Bengal-less life? Or do you want to keep reading Monday morning Bengals columns?

On Sunday in Pittsburgh, I added up all my hours attending Bengals games in the last 12 years. One, because I was curious, in a twisted, masochistic kind of way, and two, because during Bengals games there is nothing better to do.

I came up with 1,728 hours. That's 18 games a year, including preseason (I miss a few), times eight hours a game, times 12 years. Seventeen hundred, twenty-eight hours breaks down to 72 entire days. That doesn't count the travel. It's a really glamorous life, getting up at 4:45 to catch a 6:30 flight from Seattle, spending four hours in a center seat, wedged between two Slim-Fast candidates with their heads thrown back and their mouths wide open, snoring like an elephant with a sinus condition.

Think about it: Seventy-two days of my life, 24 hours a day, doing nothing but watching the Cincinnati Bengals play football. I don't say this to elicit your pity, friends, only to let you know the incredible sacrifice I've made to keep you informed. What I do, I do for you. I love you guys. You know that.

But I'm at the end of my dictionary. I have torn adjectives in my sentence structure. My adverbs are on injured reserve. I'm out of synonyms for "lousy." I'm wa-a-a-y out of synonyms for lousy. Twelve years, friends. Twelve years.

Bengals coach Dick LeBeau says his team is "making progress." I don't know how much more progress I can stand.

Is it time for me to resign from covering the 2002 Cincinnati Bengals? Should I concede I've overcome enough adversity in '02, the third year of the Bengals' Lost Millennium? Not content to pole-axe a decade, the Bengals are on their way to botching a whole century. Since the start of the 2000 season, they're 11-32.

Do I have to keep chronicling this stuff? Even the Brooklyn Dodgers radio guy had to announce Bobby Thomson's homer only once. I'm asking for parole here. I've done hard time. I've been a model prisoner.

Will you give me a break? You people get to turn off your TVs or smash them. You can take the Paul Brown Stadium escalator down whenever you like. (Fellow Enquirer scribe Tom Groeschen immortalized it as the L-scalator, for providing superior transport during Bengals "L"osses.)

You can vacate the losing. I've gotta watch.

I'm in the arena. You're the Romans.

Thumbs up? Thumbs down?

I'll keep writing about the games, if you want. Already this fall, I've written more crummy Bengals jokes than Jay Leno's entire staff. Or I can take the last four Sundays off, beginning with the game at Carolina next week.

Personally, I think I'm due some Barcalounger time. But hey, it's your paper. I just work here. Drop me a line.

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