So, we are sad to report that we did not make it to Bengals wide receiver Chad Johnson's dramatic interpretation of the chicken dance at Cincinnati's Oktoberfest on Saturday afternoon; we figured by the time we actually made it downtown, we'd be too far away to see anything but the tip of Johnson's blondehawk. Turns out he shaved a bunch of mohawks for Bengals' fans, and that's another reason we didn't go: We can imagine being fired up enough by the chicken dance to get one.
We did, however, make it to Paul Brown Stadium yesterday for the Bengals' sloppy but still convincing 34-17 win over the Browns; it was our first NFL game in nearly seven years, a gap we suspect is not unusual. Some thoughts from our trip:
• Chad Johnson almost died, like, four times in this game. The brutal (and totally unnecessary) hit late in the game bloodied him up, but honestly, who else but Chad Johnson would injure his shoulder on a touchdown and still insist on doing a dance that even the elderly feel dopey doing at weddings?
• Cincinnati is in the grips of a severe Bengals flu: Before the game, there was a 45-minute line just to buy merchandise. It doesn't help that the stadium is so poorly designed that, in the event of a terrorist attack, it could be evacuated in about four to five days.
• The Browns need to improve soon, because the world needs more Kellen Winslow Jr. (And not just because HE'S A SOLDIER!) During one of the nearly 400,000 television timeouts — so much of football live, we're reminded, involves sitting around and waiting for something to happen — the Bengals' PA system began playing the beginning of "Crazy Train." Winslow, standing in the huddle, starts playing air guitar and then begins pumping up the visiting crowd bashing his helmet against a confused Charlie Frye. Two years without him was too long.
• Man, boy, howdy, did we see lots of cornholing.
• We knew Cincinnati had a history of race problems, but .... OK, here's what happened. Before the game, a traffic cop was waving cars though while a gaggle of fans congregrated, waiting to cross the street. As the majority of fans waited, two young black kids, when the cop wasn't looking, sneaked across the street ahead of the 100 or so other fans still standing at the light. Pretty rude, but whatever. Next thing you know, a group of drunk (white) fans started yelling, in full-throated sarcasm, "EQUAL RIGHTS! EQUAL RIGHTS!" at the kids, presumably, uh, well, we're not sure what the point of that was. Are they still having civil rights discussions in Cincinnati? This is still on the table? This is still considered a point of contention? Anyway, the chant was pretty awful, but hey, get a bunch of drunk fans together, and shit'll happen. We've seen and heard much worse. That is, until we looked at the traffic cop ... who was chanting "EQUAL RIGHTS! EQUAL RIGHTS!" Yipes.
• Who Dey? No, seriously ... who dey? Goddammit, someone just tell us who dey!