Bass: How Joe Burrow brought Bengals to our ‘Thanksgiving table’

You are a Bengals fan.

This is Thanksgiving Week.

What are you most thankful for?

“This man,” @BURROWTOBOYDTD tweeted, with a GIF of the Bengals’ leading man.

Joe Burrow,” @Ischoz tweeted.

“#9,” @TopiahRobert tweeted.

“Joe Burrow,” @CincyFanJake tweeted.

“Without Joe,” @MatthewBausch78 tweeted, “this town is not talking about Bengals football at the Thanksgiving table.”

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I asked the question Monday for our weekly day-after-game Twitter session. I had planned to ask it whether the Bengals won or lost Sunday.

This topic is about gratitude.

About yours.

And about mine.

I am thankful for a lot in my life, and I make sure to think about that this week every year. I try to do this more often. It helps me find perspective when something goes wrong, when it seems like one something after another.

As fans, we are especially vulnerable. We judge our team play by play, game by game. We hear others judge our team, too. The negative can hurt more than the positive heals. One on one, fear can strike out hope, if we let it.

Gratitude does not make all the pain disappear. Gratitude provides context. Remember how 0-2 felt? Did it help to be thankful that 15 games remained?

Had the Bengals lost Sunday to Pittsburgh, it still would have hurt. But gratitude might have made it a little more tolerable by Thanksgiving. And little beats zero.

Feeling thankful is easier after beating the Steelers, of course. Gratitude helps you savor the best parts of this.

The Bengals are fun again. They have won four of five, scoring at least 30 points in each victory. They are 6-2 since spotting the NFL a two-game handicap.

They still have issues, but who doesn’t?

And they still have No. 9.

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If you are a Bengals fan, there is no one correct answer about what you are most thankful for. This is about you and how you choose to answer the question.

“Yesterday 🫶🏼,” @chumpgod17 tweeted.

“A playoff contender going into the 3rd week of November,” @DavenportTroy tweeted.

“Great depth at key positions 💪🏾💪🏾,” @jajuan_sylvan tweeted.

“SO much! 🥰” @thewhobae tweeted. “Thankful for my AMAZING husband & friends who love & support me, my (nieces) & nephew including my newest (niece) who was born last wk, a rewarding career where I'm valued & make a difference, thankful & blessed to give back to my community, & BENGALS WINNING RECORD! 🧡”

You might focus on the attributes of a different player.

For @SpencerKramer9, it means kicker “@McPherson_Evan’s leg.”

For @YodaSheisty, it means running back Samaje Perine, “a man of great character and integrity and I am grateful that he is on the Cincinnati Bengals.”

You might look at Burrow, but not alone.

For @Lawless_1, it is Burrow and wide receiver Ja’Marr Chase, per a GIF of them shaking pinkies.

For @Lynnese_smith, it is her “two sons and my two Joes!💪🏾💪🏾” As in Burrow and running back Mixon.

For @whodeynorth, it is “Joe Burrow, Katie Blackburn & Duke Tobin. With Joe, anything is possible. Katie changed the culture. Duke’s selection of talent is stellar. Joe threw 20+ yard passes to 5 different receivers— w/Chase & Mixon out. They’ve formed a next man up team that eats obstacles for breakfast.”

Burrow is often the common denominator.

“Thankful for everything I have,” @Bengalpool tweeted. “And Joe Burrow.”

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Before Joe Burrow arrived, Bengals talk could be as hard to swallow as Jell-O salad at the turkey dinner.

Your first Burrow Thanksgiving was worse, coming a few days after his season-ending knee injury. Maybe you could be a little grateful for a sneak preview of what he can do, or maybe you just drowned your misery in gravy.

Now he is the type of franchise quarterback every team covets and can spend decades pursuing, who gives you hope in any game and a chance for a championship, who already has a Super Bowl berth and still is developing.

I remain grateful Burrow and all of you helped turn me into a Bengals fan last season. And I am thankful Joey B helped lift the Bengals into playoff position despite Chase missing a third game and Mixon going down Sunday.

Joe Burrow might not be the best quarterback out there, but he is pushing his way into the conversation.

Patrick Mahomes feels like the favorite in the NFL MVP race,” NFL.com’s Dan Hanzus wrote Tuesday, “but don't be surprised if Burrow makes a charge along with the rest of the Bengals in the season's final weeks.”

Let’s chew on that this week. Happy Thanksgiving!

This article originally appeared on Cincinnati Enquirer: Joe Burrow brings Bengals conversation to Thanksgiving table | Column