If you're wondering how long ago that was, let me put it this way: No one yet knew that Milli Vanilli couldn't sing, Jessica Rabbit was considered the most attractive woman on earth (even though she wasn't technically real) and the best show on television was about an alien (ALF) who likes to eat cats. What a time to be alive.
Now is also a good time to be alive, especially if you're a Bengals fan.
After years of pain and suffering, Bengals fans will finally have something to celebrate. By my rough estimation, 50% of Bengals fans weren't even alive the last time this team played in a Super Bowl.
This feels like a team that America can happily get behind and I think what I'm trying to say here is that if your favorite team has already been eliminated from the playoffs and you're looking for a bandwagon to jump on this weekend, go with Cincinnati, and here are five reasons why you'll be happy you made that pick. Of course, if you do jump on the bandwagon, just keep in mind that to formally be accepted, you have to be willing to put chili on your spaghetti for the rest of your life.
Everyone loves an underdog
If there's one thing almost all sports fans have in common, it's that they love to support an underdog, and let me tell you, there is no bigger underdog left in the playoffs than the Cincinnati Bengals.
At the beginning of the season, the oddsmakers in Las Vegas gave them nearly a zero percent chance of winning the AFC North -- and is there a number less than zero? -- because if there is, that's the chance they gave the Bengals of winning the Super Bowl. If the Bengals were to win it all, they would tie the 1999 Rams as the longest preseason long shot to ever win it all.
Any time you have a chance to jump on a bandwagon where you could witness history being made, you have to do it. To give you an idea of how big those odds are, just consider this: A $100 preseason bet on the Bengals to win the Super Bowl would pay out $15,000 if they won it all.
Forget the Super Bowl though, no one was giving a the Bengals a chance to even get to the AFC title game. Their preseason odds to win the AFC were 60-1. Those odds were so bad that only two teams had it worse (the Jets and Texans).
The Bengals have defied the odds all season and now they'll get a chance to do it again on Sunday in a game where they'll once again be the underdog (The Rams are favored by four points)
No one is expecting them to win, so the Bengals are asking the same question this week that they've been asking all season: Why not us?
Before the 2021 season started, the Bengals had gone 31 years without winning a playoff game and no one expected that drought to end, but it did. They had never won a road playoff game in franchise history and no one expected that to change this year, but it did. No one expected them to go into Arrowhead Stadium and beat the Chiefs, but they did. And now, they're playing a Super Bowl in the other team's home stadium, and once again, no one is expecting them to win.
This team is fun to watch (even the kicker)
If you've seen just one Bengals game this season, then you probably already know that this team is fun to watch, but it definitely bears repeating so I'm going to repeat it: This team is fun to watch.
Joe Burrow brings a swagger to the Bengals offense that hasn't existed since Boomer Esiason led the Bengals to the Super Bowl back in 1988. With Burrow coming off a torn ACL that he suffered in 2020, no one was expecting him to dice up the league this year, but that's exactly what he's done. The addition of Ja'Marr Chase has created one of the best QB-WR tandems in the NFL.
Joe Burrow has 1,654 Pass yards to Ja’Marr Chase, including playoffs, the most by a QB-receiver duo, both 25 or younger, entering a Conference Championship.— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) January 25, 2022
2000 Daunte Culpepper-Randy Moss (1,558) & 2018 Patrick Mahomes-Tyreek Hill (1,551) round out the top 3 h/t @EliasSports pic.twitter.com/dLbg9jUNVr
That's the same Patrick Mahomes and Tyreek Hill who the Bengals disposed of in the AFC title game.
It's not just those two though, the entire team is fun to watch. I mean, the kicker has been so good this year, that you can't find his jersey ANYWHERE IN CINCINNATI.
McPherson is so good, he already holds the franchise record for most 50-yard field goals with nine. To be clear, that's not the single-season record, that's the all-time record. He's on the verge of smashing several postseason records. If McPherson hits three field goals in the Super Bowl, he'll break Adam Vinatieri's single-season record for most playoff field goals. If he hits four field goals, he'll break Vinatieri's CAREER record for most four field goal games in the postseason.
Although the defense gets overshadowed, there are plenty of stars on that side of the ball and one of those stars is Trey Hendrickson, who finished with the fifth-most sacks in the NFL this year.
Not only is this team fun to watch, but there are a lot of players to cheer for, which is why you should be jumping on the bandwagon right now.
Bengals have never won a Super Bowl
If you're someone who gets bored of watching the same teams play in the Super Bowl every year, then the Bengals are definitely the team you should be cheering for.
Not only have the Rams already won a Super Bowl, buy played in the game just three years ago.
As for the Bengals, they're one of 12 teams in the NFL that have never won a Super Bowl and the only way they're going to have a chance to end that is if they beat the Rams, which is why you should be rooting for it to happen.
We haven't had a first-time Super Bowl winner out of the AFC since the Patriots won their first one back in 2001 and now seems like a good time for that to end.
Bengals will finally be in primetime
It might seem crazy, but most of the country hasn't been really able to watch the Bengals play this year and that's because the NFL hid them away all season in a 1 p.m. time slot that's usually only shown to about 1.7% of the country. If you don't live in that 1.7% of the country, then you probably haven't gotten to fully appreciate how good this team is.
During the regular season, the Bengals only had ONE PRIMETIME game and that came in a Thursday night game against the Jaguars in Week 4. To give you an idea of how rare it is to have a team with so few primetime games on the cusp of the Super Bowl, just consider this: The Bengals could become the first team since the 2003 Panthers to make the Super Bowl in a season where they only got one primetime game. However, even those Panthers got to play two primetime games in the playoffs. On the other hand, the Bengals have been tucked away in the non-primetime slot for three straight weeks in the postseason (They played at 4:30 p.m. on Saturday in the first two rounds and 3:05 p.m. ET on Sunday in the conference title game).
Now that they're in the Super Bowl, the Bengals are the first team in 33 years to get there without playing a single Sunday or Monday primetime game at any point during the season. Fittingly, the last team to do that was the 1988 Bengals.
Basically, the Super Bowl will be America's first chance to watch the Bengals together in a Sunday primetime game, which is why we all need to be on their bandwagon now.
The Bengals in the Super Bowl even gives you storylines you can cheer for
Here's a look at several storylines that people have been talking about in the lead up to the game:
Zac Taylor returns to Los Angeles. Before taking the Bengals job in 2019, Taylor spent two seasons on Sean McVay's coaching staff in Los Angeles. Taylor started out as the assistant wide receivers coach in 2017 before being promoted to QB coach in 2018. The Bengals hired Taylor after the Rams made the Super Bowl in 2018 so it's very fitting for him to get to face his old team in the Super Bowl.
Andrew Whitworth vs. the Bengals. If you want to pinpoint a moment when the Bengals started to crumble under Marvin Lewis, there are two that stick out: The loss to the Steelers in the 2015 playoffs and the team's decision to let Whitworth walk after the 2016 season. After 11 seasons as the team's left tackle, the Bengals let Whitworth walk in free agency and their offensive line has gotten progressively worse since then. It's been six years since that decision and the team still hasn't fully recovered. The best part is that Whitworth actually let Joe Burrow hang out at his house last offseason while the Bengals QB was rehabbing from his knee injury.
The Man of the Year (Andrew Whitworth) let the Comeback Player of the Year (Joe Burrow) rehab at his house in Los Angeles during the offseason and now they're going to face each other in the Super Bowl on Sunday. Kind of crazy. #Bengals #Rams #SuperBowl https://t.co/YzD6zdif1W— John Breech (@johnbreech) February 11, 2022
40-year anniversary of Bengals first Super Bowl appearance. Not only did the Bengals make it to the Super Bowl for the first time 40 years ago, but there's also another interesting tie to that season: They changed their uniforms. The Bengals added stripes to their helmets prior to the 1981 season and then made it to the Super Bowl during their first season in stripes. This past offseason, they also underwent a dramatic uniform change and once again, they got to the Super Bowl in their first year sporting their new look.
Bonus: Celebrities love the Bengals
I'm not saying you should cheer for the Bengals because a bunch of celebrities are, but it doesn't hurt. Let's start off with Woody Harrelson, who went to high school near Cincinnati and has been a fan for so long that he actually blamed himself for the Bengals playoff drought.
Let's salute #obscurebengals fan Woody Harrelson 🪴🍻. Many know @NickLachey & @garyowencomedy are avid fans but few know of Woody. He supposedly cursed the #Bengals by accident on an episode of Cheers involving a foosball table. 0 playoff w's since the ep. aired. #RuleTheJungle pic.twitter.com/vgmlVK8EFD— obscure bengals (@obscure_bengals) October 12, 2021
If you're looking for a celebrity fan from the music industry, you have John Legend and Nick Lachey, who are both from southern Ohio.
There's also Kirk Hirbstreit, Gary Owen and Rob Lowe's brother, Chad, who hilariously filmed himself watching McPherson's game-winning kick against the Titans.
Of course, there's also the most famous Bengals fan of all, George Clooney, who has been known to wear Bengals gear once in awhile.
He also once gave the team a shout-out while being interviewed by Ed Reed before the Oscars one year.
I'm guessing George is not hurting anymore.
With the Super Bowl in Los Angeles, you can bet there will be quite a few celebrity fans in attendance if the Bengals make it.