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The Grueling Truth - Where Legends Speak / Are the Cincinnati Bengals cursed or just inept?

Are the Cincinnati Bengals cursed or just inept?

Are the Bengals cursed?
Publish Date: 07/24/2021
Fact checked by: Simon Briffa
Joe Burrow injured his knee during the third quarter against the Washington Football Team. PHOTO: PATRICK MCDERMOTT/GETTY IMAGES

If you have been a Bengals fan since 1968, you know that the Bengal’s bad luck did not just begin with an injury to Carson Palmer. So let us now take a look at the possibility that the Bengals are cursed.

Greg Cook

The legendary Bill Walsh called Cook the most talented Quarterback he had ever seen. Cook was a first-round draft pick out of the University of Cincinnati in 1969, and his career got off to an amazing start.

Cook was a rare talent and a natural passer coming out of UC and, with the right coaching, had the potential to be one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time. Cook led the Bengals to three straight wins to start the 1969 Bengals but injured his shoulder in the third game against the Kansas City Chiefs. Backup quarterback Sam Wyche started the next four games, all four losses before Cook returned in Week 8 to beat the Oakland Raiders. Unfortunately, after playing to a tie in Week 9, the Bengals lost the rest of their games. Cook would never be the same and finally retired after multiple comeback attempts.

In his rookie season, Cook passed for 1,854 yards for 15 touchdowns and 11 interceptions, which earned him the AFL Passing Title, and he was named the UPI’s Offensive Rookie of the Year. His 9.41 yards per passing attempt is the oldest standing Bengals record and the only one still standing from the time they played at Nippert Stadium. The only Bengals quarterback to get close was Boomer Esiason’s 9.21 yards per attempt in 1988 when the Bengals went to the Super Bowl.
Unfortunately, during the third game of the season, Cook had torn his rotator cuff, and due to the limited medical technology at the time, the injury went undiagnosed. Instead of receiving the necessary surgery, he only received cortisone shots, which helped the pain and allowed his rotator cuff and shoulder to deteriorate. He had surgery in the offseason where it was discovered that on top of his rotator cuff is torn; his bicep was partially detached.

What might have been are huge words here when you realize that the Bengals were an excellent team through most of the 1970s, and Cook could have been the difference in putting the Bengals over the hump against the Steel Curtain. I know Ken Anderson had a great career, but it is possible that Cook was even better than Anderson.

Bill Walsh

Bill Walsh started running the west coast offense in 1970 after losing Greg Cook, and he had to design an offense that would work with QB Virgil Carter who did not have the great arm strength. The Bengals had great success with the offense and went to the playoffs 1970, 73, and 75. After the 75 season, Paul Brown decided to retire, and common sense would have made Bill Walsh the next Bengals Head Coach.

Instead, Brown chooses Bill Johnson, his defensive coordinator, and friend, as the next head coach, and it was a fatal mistake that the Bengals as an organization have never overcome. Not only did Walsh go on to win 3 Super bowls, but 2 of the wins came at the Bengals’ expense. How could Brown make such a fatal error in judgment?

2 Super Bowls

In Super Bowl 16, the Bengals took on Bill Walsh and the 49ers. The first half was nothing but mistake-filled for the Bengals. However, the end of the first half was the difference in the game as in the last minute; the 49ers squibbed 2 kicks deep that the Bengals could not handle, which led to 2 Ray Wersching field goals gave the 49ers a 20-0 lead. Those 6 points would be critical in a 26-21 loss. Don’t even get me started on the 4th and goal from the one-yard line play that sealed the Bengal’s fate when David Verser went the wrong way on 46 m lead and Pete Johnson got stoned at the goal line.

Super Bowl 23 was even worse as the craziness started the night before the game when Stanley Wilson was found in a cocaine-induced stupor. Then in the first quarter, Tim Krumrie breaks his leg. Later on, Lewis Billups drops a sure interception, and with just over 3 minutes left in the game on a critical 3rd and 8, Bengals coach Sam Wyche decides just to run the ball and settle for a field goal, giving Joe Montana the ball down just 3 points with 3 minutes left. What could go wrong there? Then the Bengals decide to play a prevent defense and don’t even have Legendary Linebacker Reggie Williams on the final drive.

Boobie Fumbles

In 1976 the Bengals had their best chance to take a division title from the hated Pittsburgh Steelers. QB Terry Bradshaw missed most of the regular season, and all the Bengals had to do was beat the Steelers, who QB Mike Kruczek led to getting it down. The game started in beautiful weather, and the Bengals had a 3-0 lead at the half, then came the second half and a blizzard that dumped 6 inches of snow on the field in the second half and with neither team doing much on offense.

The game was decided on a mistake, and of course, the Bengals would make that mistake. Bengal’s running back Boobie Clark would fumble the ball, and Steelers legend Franco Harris would promptly cash it in for a 7-3 Steelers victory.

Mike Reid and Tommy Casanova retire.

Reid was an all-pro defensive lineman from Penn State who had a short career with the Bengals before deciding to retire and start a music career, leading to multiple Grammys as a songwriter. Casanova was a part of the greatest defensive backfield in Bengals history, teaming up with Ken Riley and Lemar Parrish.

Casanova, much like Reid, decided to retire after a short career to pursue his true passion, which was to be a doctor. What could have been if Walsh was coaching these two and had a healthy Greg Cook at Quarterback? Maybe the Bengals would have taken a few Super Bowl titles from the Steelers.

Ki Jana Carter

The Bengals actually traded up to get the first pick in the Draft for Carter, who had starred at Penn State. Everybody loved the pick until the first preseason game in Detroit when Carter blew out his knee and was never the same again.

David Pollack

Another first-round pick and a catastrophic neck injury that ended his career before it ever got really started.

Carson Palmer

Does anybody remember this? A month before the playoffs, the Bengals and Carson Palmer put 38 on the Steelers in a win in Pittsburgh, and the Bengals were a serious Super Bowl threat. The Bengals had a rematch in the wild card playoffs in 2005, and the start of the game saw Palmer hit Chris Henry on a deep ball, and Paul Brown Stadium erupted. But, unfortunately, it quickly became quiet as Palmer laid on the stadium turf in pain and another Bengals season was doomed.


Another game against the Steelers and another bad ending as Andy Dalton hurts his hand early in the game and misses the rest of the season. At the time, Dalton was an MVP candidate and had the Bengals sitting at 10-2 and set up for a first-round bye in the Playoffs. After his injury, though the Bengals finished 2-2 and hosted the Steelers in the playoffs, and as they say, the rest is history as Jeremy Hill fumbled the ball with time running out and the Bengals in the lead, and of course Big Ben leads the Steelers on a game-winning drive.

Paul Brown dies

Paul Brown’s death gave Mike Brown total control of the franchise, which sent the Bengals into their current tailspin. I am not saying Paul Brown did a great job in Cincy, but Mikey Boy has been worse than bad. Remember, Paul did not hire Walsh, and under Paul’s former Hall of Fame Quarterback Steve Young refused to come here, and Linebacker Ricky Hundley refused to come here.

Is it a curse?

No, it’s not a curse! Not hiring Bill Walsh was not a curse. The Bengals are just inept, and if you look at how they have been run since 1968, whether it was Mikey Boy or Paul’s bad decision after bad decisions have been made. They have not run this organization like a Pro Football team, and they have treated the City, Fans, and, more importantly, the former and current players poorly.

I think instead of a curse, it’s just karma for the Brown family, for fans; on the other hand, it’s a curse because the fans and city have been cursed with the Brown family, and sadly it looks like nothing will ever change. BTW I never even brought up the trade of Charlie Joiner, Ickey Woods injury, Mikey Boy telling Boomer to retire to the booth, and I have even more, but I am getting a headache just thinking about this crap.

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