Here at The Sports Fan Journal, we hope to evolve and deliver something not found in any other corner of this here internet. We bring you Mark Trible and Dillon Friday's NFL Countdown project. A fan from each NFL team will be featured as we anxiously await the season's kickoff.
Someone needs to tell the fans' stories. What better place than their trusty Journal?
Without further ado, meet Cincinnati Bengals fan Jamie Johnson.
The Cincinnati-Northern Kentucky Metropolitan Area is home to some of the most loyal fans in football. If you were born in the tri-state region, it guarantees that you’ll be a lifelong Cincinnati Bengals fan.
The staple of a Bengals fan is simple — you bleed orange and black. Nothing else matters.
Jamie Johnson has been a Bengals fan since birth. A lifelong Cincinnati
native, Johnson has followed the team since she was knee-high to a pit bull. According to her, being a stripes fan is an experience in itself.
“It’s truly a yearly experience that includes weeks of hoping for the best and thinking this will be our year, but expecting the worst,” she says. “In recent years there has been an 18th week where in the beginning of the week there is an overwhelming pride in the city.
“Orange and black can be seen absolutely everywhere, and everyone within a hundred-mile radius wants a postseason win for our boys. By the week's end, we're heartbroken and swearing that we won't be fans anymore, but every year we keep up the dysfunctional cycle.”
Being a young fan, Johnson has experienced few Bengals teams. Most of the team's influence on her was passed down from her father. Her best memories of her squad were spent with the dynamic duo — Chad Johnson or Ochocinco and T.J. Houshmandzadeh — at wide receiver.
Needless to say, she was a big fan of the one that got away.
“The first Bengals player that became my favorite without the influence of my daddy's opinion is T.J. Houshmandzadeh,” Johnson recalls. “Before him, I liked whoever my dad liked. As a teenage girl, Houshmandzadeh's good looks played a major part in making me noticing him. He just coincidentally was a good player and did very well in 3rd-and-long situations with the bum at quarterback who shall not be named.”
It’s clear there’s some disdain for Carson Palmer by Johnson and many other Bengals fans.
Palmer had some good years in Cincinnati. Still, few have good things to say about his career in The Queen City.
“Chad (Johnson) and T.J. were great for the city of Cincinnati. Chad did so many things in the community and wasn’t afraid to come to the hood and do things with the children in the city. I remember times we would be waiting in line at the movie theater and Chad would come by and pay for everyone’s ticket that was waiting in line. He gets a lot of love in Cincinnati because he had a great relationship with the people here.”
Today’s Bengals have a lot to offer. When asked who her favorite players are on the team today, a few names jumped out right away.
“A.J. Green. I mean what can I say?” Johnson asks rhetorically. “He has been a touchdown killer for us, and he's still very young so I'm excited to see what great things he'll do. An Andy Dalton to A.J. Green touchdown has almost become the unofficial 'my flight has landed tweet' for Bengals fans.”
Shifty tailback Giovani Bernard, who arrived from the great state of Florida by way of North Carolina, also earns Johnson’s praise.
“In one season with the Bengals, he’s definitely made a name for himself with his speed, and I enjoy watching him switch directions so quickly,” she says.
It’s safe to say that she bleeds orange and black. Expectations are high this season, especially with the hefty contract quarterback Andy Dalton just signed.
“A lot of people are going to set the bar higher for Dalton. When you get elite money, you have to perform in an elite manner. Hopefully we see that type of play from him on a consistent basis. He has moments of greatness, but it fades too quickly for me. If he utilizes all the weapons around him, he can be special. He just has to put in the work and maintain consistent play.”
The verdict is still out on the Bengals, but Johnson’s renewed with enthusiasm and excitement.
>> Be sure to catch the rest of the "Meet the Fan" series:
Color Commentator for Time Warner Cable Sports Network NC/SC/OH and NCCU Sports Network. Washed up athlete who used to ball, now I write and call.