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The Battle of Ohhhhhhio
Woeful Bengals, Browns try to get their first win this week
Posted: Wednesday October 06, 1999 01:37 PM
By John Donovan, CNN/SI
No one wants to think about this in Cincinnati -- heck, they don’t want to think about football at all in Cincinnati -- but this could be the most embarrassing weekend in a decade worth of embarrassments for the woeful Bengals.
On the other hand -- and let’s look at this thing positively, shall we? -- this weekend could mark a major step for the new Cleveland Browns. Because this Sunday, in new Cleveland Browns Stadium, the Bengals come to town, marking Cleveland’s best chance this season of getting a win.
What’s one team’s pride is often another’s embarrassment. But rarely is the case so stark as in the first renewal of the Battle of Ohio. The Bengals, 0-4 and looking horrible, have nothing to gain in this game, really, in a season already lost. The Browns, 0-4 and looking horrible, can’t gain a whole lot either. But at least they can fall back on the expansion franchise thing for an excuse.
“I know if we lose to Cleveland, we’ll become even more the butt of ridicule,” Bengals owner Mike Brown told The Cincinnati Enquirer. “While we seemed to have pressed the boundary on that, who knows?”
Indeed, a loss to the Browns would be just the latest kick in the shiny pants to a team that has become the worst of the ‘90s. This downtrodden drama is made even more interesting this week because the Bengals have decided to start rookie Akili Smith at quarterback.
The Browns, of course, already are going with rookie Tim Couch as their starter. And it was the Browns, remember, who played Smith against Couch on Draft Day in an underhanded effort to get Couch signed as the No. 1 pick. Smith, who went third to the Bengals, hasn’t forgotten being used in the contract game.
Will it all mean anything Sunday?
No. It’ll still be two bad teams with two rookie quarterbacks. Yet it might be Cleveland’s first win.
“Let’s face it. Cleveland is playing better than we’ve been playing and they’re playing with a rookie quarterback,” Brown told the Enquirer. “Maybe we’ll play better. A little better. We can’t play any worse.”
On to this week’s Glance, which asks the burning question: Who the heck is the quarterback around here?
The answer: Check the program, dummy.
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