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Tracking Trends: Athens reacts to recent Bengals defeat

In the highly-anticipated AFC Championship game, the Cincinnati Bengals were bested by the Kansas City Chiefs, thus losing their reigning title and a chance to play in the Super Bowl LVII. While the official odds were somewhat split between the two teams, many local onlookers in Athens were rooting for the Bengals, not only for their proximity, but because the beloved quarterback, Joe Burrow, is a hometown boy. 

Even those who did not follow the game were aware of the hype around the team. Ashley Brock, a freshman studying in the General College, was aware of the hype.

“I just knew that it was a big game because the quarterback was from Athens,” she said.

Despite Brock not considering herself a sports fan, she is still enthusiastic about Athens representation in the NFL. 

“I think it’s neat that one of the well-known quarterbacks is from here,” Brock said. 

However, not all Bengals fans feel the same way. Eliza Stoner, a junior studying psychology and sociology-criminology, has been a Bengals fan her whole life, due to her parents being from Cincinnati. When asked for her opinion about the Burrow-hype, Stoner claimed to hate it. 

“Coming from someone who has been a fan their entire life and then being here, it’s annoying because, are you really a Bengals fan, or do you only like him because you go to the school where he grew up?” she said. “As an actual quarterback, I think he’s great, but the hype about it annoys me.” 

Despite being unable to watch the game while working, Stoner managed to support her team in the same way fans did for weeks leading up to the game: creating a sea of orange and black gear on campus. 

“I’m always wearing Bengals stuff on game days,” she said. “One of my friends says that I scream louder than any guy watching football, so I do like to cheer them on.”  

One of the biggest controversies of the game was in regard to how it was officiated. Even those who did not closely follow the aftermath of the game, like Ashley Brock, were aware of the dispute and “heard people complaining about the calls,” she said.

While many people feel that the officiators purposefully snubbed the Bengals, others believe the calls to have been completely correct. Ryan Baxley, a freshman studying mechanical engineering, believes that the game was called fairly. 

“I agreed with the late hit call,” he said. “When I saw it originally, I said out loud that it was a late hit.”

While believing that the game was not corruptly officiated, Baxley understood why people got worked up about the result. On the other hand, Stoner believes that there is a deeper issue in the way the game was refereed. 

“This stuff always happens right before the Super Bowl,” she said. “As a Bengals fan it is very frustrating because it seems like at the end of  the day, nobody wants us to win. No matter what, even if we’re coming from the bottom up to the top, nobody expects us to be in the Super Bowl.”.  

After the Bengals’ Super Bowl LVI loss to the Los Angeles Rams, Cincinnati residents were counting on this year for a redemption, and were crushed by the loss. Luckily, Burrow came in strong with supportive words to lift up his diehard fans. In a Q&A on the official Bengals website, Burrow said: “I feel great about the direction that we’re headed in.” 

It could be said that Athens is lucky to have produced a star who is so young and has so many years of his career to look forward to (knock on wood). While the loss was not an easy pill for fans to swallow, there is an undeniable energy among Bengals fans that seems to say that the team is not done yet. 


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