Super Sunday…and My Pick to Bet on…Or Not!

From the Sidelines

By now, everyone knows that the Super Bowl is next Sunday, February 13th.  I am sure that 97% of all the world knows that it is between the Cincinnati Bengals and the Los Angeles Rams.

This game is of particular interest to me because I used to be a die-hard Bengals fan.  I followed them from their inception.  I loved Paul Brown and since I did a radio show with him in Wilmington, I got to know about all the players. It was a fun time, and the Bengals were always competitive when Paul, who preferred if you called him “coach”, was in charge.

Don’t get me wrong here, I am not saying I hate the Bengals now, it’s just…well I got tired of the low expectations, fumbles on draft picks, and coaches who couldn’t get it done even though some were given a lifetime.

The front office has made some really, uh…”curious” choices since Coach is no longer there. Now, it seems that since Coach’s son, Mike, has started to give up some power and let others make decisions, things are looking brighter.  I hope so, Bengal fans have had their hearts torn out for close to 30 years!

I have stated many times my opinion of Mike Brown, there is no need to go there again.  Let’s just say I am happy for the change, if it really is a change, or if Mike just had a moment of lucidity to make this team what it is.

I am betting on change!  Anyway, this team has some real talent, a fantastic young LOCAL quarterback (Athens, Ohio…..close enough!) and a defense that is good enough to win with.

The Problem is once again, the offensive line.  In his rookie year you will recall, Joe Burrow got beat to a pulp and couldn’t make it through the season.  Because of the young man’s guts and hard work, he made it back this season and was one of the best in the league…even though he got beat to a pulp this year too!

This has been my problem with the management of the Bengals for years; drafting good quarterbacks and letting them get pummeled by a less than average offensive line.  David Klingler, Jeff Blake, Carson Palmer, and Andy Dalton were all near the most sacked quarterbacks every year.  All had All-Pro potential, and a bright future.

The difference I have seen with the Bengals from Coach Brown to Mikey boy, is philosophy.  Paul Brown’s first ever ‘draft pick was Bob Johnson, center from Tennessee.  Coach knew you build from the inside out.

You must protect the quarterback and open holes for runners to succeed.  Mike once stated that “a good running back will make an offensive line!”, a completely reverse of philosophy. This is why I gave up on the Bengals a couple years ago.  Their thinking was not thinking!

Every year in the NFL teams draft the “Franchise QB” that is going to take them to the promised land…and every year the “Franchise” usually gets the heck beat out of them; case in point-Trevor Lawrence.

I now see the Bengals with that “Franchise” they have long needed.  I hope they protect him, if they do, they could be successful for the next ten years.  I want that for them.

When I covered the Bengals, there were no more passionate fans than them. They love that team, and support it, even though they have had a lot to complain about for years.

So, the Super Bowl is the 13th of February, and I will be watching.  I will mildly hope for the Bengals, but they are playing one of my favorite teams from childhood, the Rams.  It should be interesting, and what I will be watching is how can the Bengals offensive line handle Aaron Donald and the others?

IF, and that is a big IF, the Bengals can control the Rams Defense, they can win in a shootout, I believe, 31-27, if not, and the Rams defense shortens Joe Burrow’s life by 10 years, then they lose, 27-14.  That’s the way I see it, from the sidelines!

Commissioner Mike Stegall

Mike Stegall / Correspondent

Mike Stegall is a GHS alum and played on the Green Wave's only undefeated football team. Served 27 years as an OHSAA football official and currently serves as a Darke County Commissioner

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