Winning Makes Believers of Us All

It was time for an attitude adjustment.

Watching sports is supposed to be fun. I’m fairly obsessed with the Cincinnati Bengals, reading the website daily, watching every play of every game even if I have to record the contest and watch it later, and owning lots of team spirit wear. (Indeed, I’m wearing a Bengals t-shirt and hat as I write this.)

But I’d become overly frustrated. The Men in Stripes always seemed to blow it when it really mattered. Last season, the Bengals won five of their last seven games, and I was convinced they would lose every single one of them. Why? They’d blown too many big games, so I was expecting the worst.

I didn’t have any fun last season, when they went 10-5-1 and made the playoffs, despite being so injured they could barely field a team by the end of the year.

So this year, I resolved to find a way to soften my attitude. Somehow, I was going to live with the Bengals whether they won or lost. I wasn’t going to let a loss ruin my Sunday or carry over into my outlook from week to week.

I wasn’t sure how I would do this, but I believe you can choose your attitude, so maybe it was possible not to get worked up over a football game.

Then the Bengals, to whom I had given so much devotion, decided to reward me. They started winning. Not just winning more than they lost. Not just beating the teams they were supposed to like in the past. They beat everyone.

At the midpoint of the 2015 season, the Cincinnati Bengals were undefeated. They were 8-0 for the first time in franchise history.

That certainly made it a lot easier to have a good attitude.

And then the undefeated Bengals drew the struggling 3-5 Houston Texans on Monday Night Football. With a banged up secondary and a punchless running game, the Texans had almost no shot to knock the Bengals off their pedestal.

Better still, a friend had tickets to the game she couldn’t use. She offered them to me. I don’t get to see my boys live very often. This would be only the fifth time in the last 12 years, and only the third in Cincinnati. Getting to see a game during this special season was a real treat.

So of course, they lost. One of the most prolific offenses in the NFL didn’t even score a touchdown. They dropped a bunch of passes, and committed a number of killing penalties. Then, with 40 seconds left and in position to win, their star wide receiver fumbled the game away.

Cincinnati lost 10-6 to a team they should have whipped on national television after I had driven two hours to see it.

Figures.

But the thing is, I wasn’t really that upset. People asked if I had a good time, and I did. I was thankful for the experience. I had great seats, and I was at Monday Night Football with 61,000 other screaming fans. It was awesome!

“Winning makes believers of us all,” said Paul Brown, the team’s founder, who died in 1991 after a Hall-of-Fame career as an innovator, coach, and owner.

The Bengals lost Monday the same way they have other games in the past few years, but losing is a part of football. Almost no one goes undefeated in the NFL.

I didn’t lost my cool. I didn’t have a miserable, angry drive back to Columbus. I wasn’t sulking the next day.

I liked that.  I have to remember it for the next time they lose. I have to remember for the seasons that don’t start 8-0.

Happy at the GameBecause I want to enjoy watching Bengals games. It’s one of my hobbies. It should be fun.

So far this year, it is. I must remember how to keep that going, even if the Bengals don’t.

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