You either watched it live on CBS, were there or you saw and read about the rowdy Steelers-Bengals NFL Wildcard Playoff game later. The sad thing is Cincinnati, the well-mannered “northern most southern city” in America, showed its seamy underbelly to the nation this past weekend.
Yes, we can debate the two thug dumbasses who cost the Bengals the game (yes they are and should be cut). How head coach Marvin Lewis is a playoff loser and needs to go (he is and should). Or how the Pittsburgh Steelers’ players and coaches are scumbags (arguably true too). But, none of that excuses the behavior of many Bengals’ fans in attendance at Paul Brown Stadium, many of whom went looking for a fight.
I was at a sports bar 15 miles from the stadium that night and people there were emotionally jacked. At the half I heard the first, “Fuck you Marvin. You piece of shit.” I can’t imagine what it was like in the stadium.
Well, actually I can. I’ve seen what happens on Sunday afternoons at 1:30, let alone after a full day of heavy drinking on a warm, rainy Saturday in January.
You say the Bengals as a team aren’t ready for primetime? Neither are its fans who go as a drunken mob to Paul Brown Stadium not being able to hold their liquor. It’s sad really, for a city that prides itself in its brewing heritage. Back in the day, I’m guessing Pawpaw was able to hold his cold Hudy Delight much better at old Crosley Field than his grandkids of today.
Inappropriate behavior at NFL games is not unique to Cincinnati. Far from it. Other cities have reputations of rough, fight filled and drunken stadiums, where the visiting team’s fans are dared to wear their favorite team’s colors. Cleveland, Philadelphia, Oakland and Buffalo come to mind. But, Cincinnati? Decent and nice Cincinnati? A place where people not understanding you will respond with a polite, “Please?”
Prior to the game I asked a few people, “Hey. You going to the game?” To a person they said, “No way. I’m done going to night games. I’m not gonna get hurt.”
Game day I got up early and went online looking for tickets. Plenty of aftermarket seats were available, some close to face value. I considered going, then thought it’s going to rain and better to watch it on TV. In a sick sort of way I really wanted to be there because I knew what was going to take place, more so in the seats, concourses and restrooms than on the field.
As first reported by wcpo.com, I’d like you to meet Ethan Hager. He’s 11 and was at his first life threatening Bengals’ game.
Ethan and his Dad decided to cheer on their favorite team in person Saturday night dressed in Bengals’ orange and black. At one point, as the crowd around them devolved into a drunken brawl, someone motioned to his Dad to help his son. Ethan was down for the count after being hit by an unopened beer bottle. He was hurt.
Here’s Ethan being wheel chaired out of Paul Brown Stadium on his way to Cincinnati Children’s Hospital. “Who Dey, Ethan. Who Dey!”
There’s the story of a woman being hit in the face by a man. He told the cop who arrested him, “I was just waving my terrible towel. I hit her with the towel. Her face got in the way.” The Hamilton County Sheriff Deputy responded, “Tell it to the judge on Monday,” as he was taken to a jail about seven blocks north of the stadium.
Drunken teens. Fights in the restrooms. And speaking of restrooms why needlessly waste time going to one when a guy can just whip it out and drain that $9 Budweiser on a fan in the row in front of him.
Meet Martin Cooke of Kentucky. It’s an apropos (although untrue) stereotype, being from the Blue Grass State, that he’d pee in public…not necessarily on someone.
It’s possible Martin is just a good ol’ boy from the hills of Kentucky with a prostate problem. That $9 Bud can come out as fast as it went in. Police reports also say Martin punched the victim. No one is sure at this point if the punch or pee came first. I think the punch. Ultimately, there must be rules that maintain decorum during combat. I believe this may be written somewhere in the Geneva Conventions. Punch first, then pee on your enemy.
Here’s my point, years ago the WWE figured out rowdy brawls in the stands and blood in the ring would ultimately destroy the professional wrestling business. They stopped the brawls, stopped the bleeding and became more family friendly. The UFC made the same decision. You see, blood is bad for ticket sales and for TV ratings.
Truth be known, I had a few beers in me Saturday night, but certainly not the 15 plus beers some people had in them at the game. The Bengals, the other 31 franchises and the NFL itself needs to carefully examine what happened in Cincinnati Saturday night and take additional steps to discourage and stop this type of behavior from happening in buildings that are mostly subsidized by the generous taxpayers in team cities. The NFL is allowed the use of these stadiums. In most cities they are the guests, not the hosts. Ignoring inappropriate fan behavior and risking the safety of those who are simply looking to enjoy a football game is unacceptable.
If for no other reason, the NFL needs to keep 11-year old boys attending their first game with their dad safe. They, ultimately, are the future fans.