No Sleep Till Football

Like Brooklyn Except It's Football

A Show of Solidarity

Last night the Saints & Vikings walked out on the field with a gesture that is usually meant as someone saying they are #1. Last night it was meant as a show of solidarity between the players in the upcoming labor disputes involving the NFL and its players.

There have been a lot of opinions about whether it was a good action or a bad one going forward, but one argument I thought was interesting that Mark Schlereth made on NFL Live was that it showed that the players were not insulting the fans intelligence about the players they support. I’m not entirely sure what Schlereth meant by that (he oftentimes babbles incoherently), but the last time the NFL had labor problems the players got hammered as the public didn’t really care about the players involved so much as they cared about the jersey that the player was wearing.

What was interesting was Schlereth made it out to be that the fans supported the “players” and not the “team” and the distinction is a big one. The problem is MUCH MUCH WORSE in major league baseball with players jumping from team to team to team, but it is still noteworthy in the NFL and this has certainly caused a lot of fans to say, “I’m going to the game so I can watch the Bengals.” They are not saying, “I’m going to the game so I can watch Terrell Owens because I support him as a player.” This is manifest with the New York Yankees & Alex Rodriguez. Sure A-Rod has been wearing pinstripes for quite awhile, but in many Yankees fans minds, he’s not really a Yankee. Keeping with the Bengals as an example let’s take a look at their depth chart:

QB-Carson Palmer (7-years all with Bengals)
RB-Cedric Benson (3-years Bears, 2-years Bengals)

FB-Brian Leonard (2-years Rams, 1-year Bengals)
WR-Chad Ochocinco (9-years all with Bengals)

WR-Terrell Owens (8-years 49ers, 2-years Eagles, 3-years Cowboys, 1-year Bills)

RT-Dennis Roland (1-year Bucs, 2-years Bengals)

RG-Bobbie Williams (3-years Eagles, 6-years Bengals)
OC-Kyle Cook (2-years Bengals)
LG-Nate Livings (3-years Bengals)

LT-Andrew Whitworth (4-years Bengals)

Less than half of the 11 starters have been with the Bengals their entire careers. Luckily for the Bengals, the fans do have 2 stalwart high profile guys in Carson Palmer & Chad Ochocinco who have been Bengals their entire career. There are also 3 offensive linemen who have been Bengals their entire career with the 2 others having been Bengals for longer period than they haven’t been. Still, the O-Linemen are hardly known unless you are a serious hardcore football fan. Cincinnati Bengals fans would definitely have a tear or two in their eyes when Palmer & Ochocinco leave (retiring Bengals that is), but the other 9 guys would probably go unnoticed. As far as T.O. is concerned, I’m sure there are just as many Bengals fans rooting against him as there are for him. On the defensive side of the ball we have:

SS-Roy Williams (7-years Cowboys, 1-year Bengals)
FS-Chris Crocker (3-years Browns, 2-years Falcons, 0.5-years Dolphins, 1.5-years Bengals)

DE-Robert Geathers (6-years Bengals)
DT-Domata Peko (4-years Bengals)
DT-Tank Johnson (3-years Bears, 2-years Cowboys, 1-year Bengals)

DE-Antwan Odom (4-years Titans, 2-years Bengals)

LB-Rey Maualuga (1-year Bengals)

LB-Keith Rivers (2-years Bengals)

LB-Dhani Jones (3-years Giants, 3-years Eagles, 3-years Bengals)

CB-Leon Hall (3-years Bengals)

CB-Johnathan Joseph (4-years Bengals)

The defense is a lot more interesting for Bengals fans who support the players. Both Hall & Joseph get a lot of publicity as being the best CB tandem in the NFL & both have been Bengals for their entire career. The Bengals also have a couple of very young outstanding LBs in Maualuga & Rivers who could definitely be the faces of the defense going forward with the Bengals. Even still, those 4 players haven’t been playing with the Bengals for all that long a period. They have 10 total years between 4 players. Chad Ochocinco has 9 by himself while Palmer has 7.

All in all there are just 11 of the 22 starters on the Bengals that have known nothing but the Bengals. Given how young some of them are how unknown the others are, only Palmer & Ochocinco stand out as Bengals fans might shed a tear over when they depart, assuming of course they retire Bengals instead of leaving via free agency.

The bigger question though is whether Bengals fans actually support the player instead of the jersey. In the past it has always been the jersey which blows up the myth Schlereth is trying to perpetuate. It’s understandable though. He’s a former player so of course he wants to blindly believe there were fans that were actually pulling for him specifically whether he was suiting up for Denver or Washington, but unfortunately for Schlereth (& potentially the current players as well) fans of football seem to care only about the name on the front of the jersey and not the name on the back.

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September 11, 2010 - Posted by | Cincinnati Bengals, Labor, NFL, Unions

3 Comments »

  1. I think that the fans are still in it for the team.

    I will say that I think that both sides of the battle are just in a money grab. I did NOT like the players gesture on openning night. I was all geeked up and ready for the start of the season and then the player threw a wet blanket on top of me. They wanted to make sure I remember that football may not be played next year. All I wanted to do was watch football and the players were more concerned that they s/b payed 4M instead of 3.5M a year. Just shut up and play football.

    Big Timber

    Comment by Anonymous | September 11, 2010 | Reply

  2. I forgot. I can't wait to see your write up on the Hatchets. They beat up on ND 48-7!!!!

    Comment by Anonymous | September 11, 2010 | Reply

  3. It's amazing how much different football & baseball are in relation to this. Fans will not watch inferior baseball played at the major league level for major league prices.

    In the past, fans were more than willing to watch inferior football played at the professional level for NFL prices.

    It's kind of amazing when you think about it.

    Comment by College Football Mafia | September 12, 2010 | Reply


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