The Cincinnati Bengals begin their season against the Baltimore Ravens on Monday night on the road in Baltimore. The Bengals and the Ravens both compete in the AFC North along with the Pittsburgh Steelers, so it is always a tough division to win making every game important for both teams. However there are reasons this first Monday Night Football game has some added significance.
Neither the Cincinnati Bengals nor the Baltimore Ravens would exist if it were not for Art Modell, who passed away at the age of 87 this week. The story began in Cleveland where the legendary Paul Brown, for whom the Browns were named, had been coaching Modell's team for 17 seasons.
A feud developed between owner Art Modell and Paul Brown regarding whether to play first-round draft pick and Heisman Trophy winner Ernie Davis, who had been diagnosed with Leukemia. Modell wanted to play him and give him his moment of glory; Brown was against it based on doctor's recommendations. Modell fired Brown, and Banks passed away five months later.
Paul Brown moved on and founded the Cincinnati Bengals in 1967. Decades later in 1996, Modell moved his Cleveland Browns to Baltimore where they became the Ravens. Bengals current and longest-serving head coach Marvin Lewis came to the Bengals from Baltimore where he had been their defensive coordinator. The ties and history between these teams are strong and all the more visible with the recent death of Art Modell.
This is the first Monday night game of the season, and both teams have to be pleased with the spotlight.
The Bengals have for years been the butt of jokes, more often jeered than cheered, even in Cincinnati. People call them the "Bungles" and respond to chants of "Whodey" with "everybody." But tides are turning and the Bengals have good young talent and coaches that seem to be in control and moving down the right path. Times have certainly changed for the Cincinnati Bengals to be granted a spot to show their stuff in the premier of Monday Night Football.
The Ravens have been a solid team for many years, but it was in 2001 that they claimed their one and only Super Bowl victory. They would love to add another to the team's record books. Despite their stellar play, the Ravens are often overshadowed in the division by the media drenched Pittsburgh Steelers. The Ravens would love to wake up the country and show everyone they are a team to be reckoned with this year.
Last year, the Baltimore Ravens came out on top of the Cincinnati Bengals both times they met. A win for the Bengals would be sweet and set a tone of success for the season. The Ravens, and most football fans, likely believe they are the better team and will come out on top, but only time will tell if that is indeed the case again. It will be a hard fought battle on both ends, and when the clock runs down and crowd clears, only one team will head into week two undefeated.Geoff Hobson, "Update: Bengals' first chapter ends with passing of Modell," bengals.com
Lisa Stewart is a married mother of two who lives in the suburbs of Cincinnati, Ohio. She is a die-hard Bengals fan and looks forward to the day when they will finally win it all.
Follow Lisa on Twitter: @lisa0606
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