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The Bengals "Bo Jackson Curse" that started 23 years ago today

posted 1/13/2014 7:57:12 PM |
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Today (Jan.13, 2014) marks the 23rd anniversary of the Bengals "Bo Jackson Curse".

I found this little piece today from the Boston Herald which was Sunday morning Jan. 5, 2014 right before the Bengals were scheduled to play San Diego later that day.

Marvin Lewis has yet to earn a playoff win as coach of the Bengals. Could it have something to do with the Curse of Bo Jackson?

CINCINNATI — Bo knows why the Cincinnati Bengals haven’t won a playoff game in 23 years.

The Red Sox were long saddled with The Curse of the Bambino, a dark cloud that hung over their playoff dreams for 86 years. The Bengals carry a similar shroud, The Curse of Bo.

The Bengals have not won a playoff game since a long-forgotten linebacker named Kevin Walker fell across the back of Bo Jackson’s legs on Jan. 13, 1991, at the LA Coliseum, dislocating Jackson’s hip and ending his football career. After the injury Jackson developed avascular necrosis, essentially starving his femur of its blood supply. In a sense it’s been the same for the Bengals’ playoff efforts, which have come up dry ever since.

Because of those 23 years of frustration, Marvin Lewis is close to making NFL history but he’d really rather not. Records, the Bengals head coach knows, are made to be broken and every coach would love to set some, so breaking records is not something Lewis is necessarily averse to. He’d just rather it not be the one he’s closest to setting.

When Lewis enters Paul Brown Stadium today to lead his team against the San Diego Chargers in an AFC wild card playoff game, he will have already passed Norm Van Brocklin for second place on a unique coaching list. He will have coached more regular-season NFL games than anyone but Jim Mora without a playoff win.

It has at times irked Lewis to be presented with the reality that he’s coached the Bengals in 177 regular-season games without a playoff victory, trailing only Mora’s remarkable number of 231. But this year he seems to have taken a new approach when his resume is mentioned.

Where once he bristled, today Lewis sounds like a Zen philosopher spouting “acceptance is the price of freedom.’’

“It can’t bother me,’’ Lewis said this week. “It’s what it is. It’s my goal not to win (a playoff game) but to win four.’’

That, of course, would make him a Super Bowl champion as well as no longer a threat to Mora’s place in coaching history but let’s not get ahead of ourselves. To do that Lewis must first beat the Chargers, who limped into the playoffs at 9-7 by winning their last four games, the final one coming against the Chiefs’ B team.

It should come as no surprise then that the feeling around Cincinnati is this is not really about the Chargers. It’s about Lewis’ ability to get his team over a hump now resembling Mt. Everest.

“It’s a hurdle for this building,’’ Lewis said of the Bengals having not won in the playoffs since Jan. 6, 1991, when they fittingly — considering what followed — beat a team that no longer exists, the Houston Oilers. “It’s a hurdle for this city. It’s a hurdle for me until we cross it. No doubt.

“Yeah it’s an albatross but I told our guys, ‘Don’t worry about it. Just go play.’ We’re not going to get any of you to shut up about it until we win.”

Bo knows Bengals. Marvin knows curse’s fallout.

When Lewis first arrived in Cincinnati 11 years ago he inherited a mess, rebuilt it, failed to win a playoff game, lost his franchise quarterback when Carson Palmer bailed on him and was given in 2011 what few coaches receive in one location. A second chance.

What he’s done with it is find a new quarterback in Andy Dalton and lead him into the playoffs three straight years yet the end result has been the same. Lewis is 0-for-2 in the Dalton Days in part because it’s been more like the Dalton Daze, his young quarterback producing no TD passes, four interceptions and six sacks in two playoff losses.

Lewis has been around long enough to know if this continues there will be no third chance, even after taking his team to the postseason four of the last five years. All that’s left now is winning or goodbye.

“Reality is you gotta be world champions,’’ Lewis said several days removed from the decapitating of five head coaches, one only a year after being hired. “That’s reality.’’

Thankfully, Lewis quickly added, it’s not the only reality.

“Coach (Bill) Belichick was in Cleveland,’’ Lewis reminded. “They went to the playoffs while he was in Cleveland but then things went downhill and he started over in New England and the rest is history. I got a chance to start over again here .?.?. as a new coach. It didn’t seem like it but I was.’’

Perhaps but at this time of year he’s been the same old Lewis. The last two seasons his team couldn’t get by the Houston Texans but today it faces a Chargers team it has already beaten in its house, where the Bengals are 8-0, have beaten four Super Bowl-winning quarterbacks (Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers, Drew Brees and Joe Flacco) and held visiting quarterbacks to a 60.6 rating with only nine TD passes to 15 interceptions and 24 sacks.

Continued in comments

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Jan 13 @ 8:02PM  
Lewis was even given the modern day version of bulletin board material (video version) from Chargers head coach Mike McCoy, who after clinching a playoff spot told his team it “owed the Bengals’’ because of Cincinnati’s 17-10 win in San Diego on Dec. 1. As he spoke several Chargers mockingly hollered the Bengals’ “Who Dey” chant in the background. Naturally, Lewis showed the clip to his team, proving film study has many definitions.

Will any of that make a difference? Bo knows. Marvin Lewis can only hope.

By: Ron Borges (The Boston Herald)

Video of Bo Jackson's injury against the Bengals on Jan. 23, 1991 in playoff game

Jan 13 @ 8:11PM  
I really don't believe in curses....but one can't help believing that a team that always seem to run into a string of bad luck after ending Bo Jackson's football career 23 years ago, and never having won a playoff game since that there may be something to this.

Let the "Bo Jackson Curse" end already!


Jan 16 @ 9:51AM  
*PFFFFTT* "Bo Jackson curse"! The only curse on the Bengals was the son of the
founder, Mike Brown!

As far as Bo Jackson goes, I'd had a belly full of him by the time he was injured. What
with all the merchandising, two sport career, etc., he was coming off as a showboat to

"Bo knows" this, "Bo knows" that. Sheesh!


Jan 16 @ 11:10AM  
I heard about this. But, not nearly as much as I've been hearing about Jim Harbaugh's wife calling a Bay area sports talk show complaining about her husband's $8.00 Wally World khaki pants

Jan 16 @ 11:12AM  
Oh, let me ask this; Do you think that we would hear more about this if Lewis coached in New York or Chicago I think we all know the answer to that question

Jan 16 @ 12:09PM  
Yeah, Cincinnati is a medium sized city that fancies itself as a metropolitan center.
Tastes can be pretty provincial, even backward, here; in many ways the city IS about
twenty years behind, like Mark Twain said!

Getting rid of Marvin would set the Bengals back twenty years (coincidentally). We'd
be right back to the Bungles of the '90s! People here have VERY short memories...

Jan 16 @ 7:27PM  
son of the
founder, Mike Brown!
True, this has been going on since late 1991 when he took over.

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The Bengals "Bo Jackson Curse" that started 23 years ago today