My Second Welcome To The Jungle

by Kevin Burton

   Joe Burrow and I are headed home

   I was calm, ready for the moment.

   Commissioner Roger Goodell announced Burrow, the LSU national champion quarterback and Heisman Trophy winner, as the first pick of the NFL draft last night.  I had said if the Cincinnati Bengals didn’t do anything silly, such as trading the pick, I would also sign with them, end my time as a free-agent fan and find a home.

   Package deal, Burrow and me.

   The crowd did not go wild. There was no crowd.  The whole thing was done electronically thanks to the virus.  In fact the commissioner was in his basement, just as I was in mine.

   Only thing missing, wish I had had a Bengals cap to put on for the big moment.  I settled for a Cincinnati Reds cap.  These are troubled times and we make do.

   The virus wiped out sports overnight in March.  The NFL draft is the first major event in the sports world that is taking place on schedule.  That made it appointment television.

   Last year 47.5 million people watched the draft, according to This year’s number will no doubt dwarf those. The price of a 30-second commercial was up fifty percent over last year, according to Draft Kings Nation.

   The draft continues tonight with rounds two and three at 6 p.m. Central time on NFL Network and ESPN/ABC.  Coverage concludes Saturday at 11 a.m. Central with rounds 3-7.

   Speculating on the upside of a rookie defensive back or tight end, even if just for a couple of hours, beats speculating on whether absent-mindedly touching one’s nose will become a death sentence.

   I have always followed two teams. Had a messy divorce from the Cleveland Browns two years ago.  Their selection of adolescent quarterback Baker Mayfield made me invoke the phrase “irreconcilable differences.” I stayed with the Oakland Raiders as my second team through the LA years but quit them over the Vegas thing.  I’m not a Las Vegas guy.

   Burrow went to high school in Ohio and started his college career at Ohio State.  Going to the Bengals takes him back home.

   The Bengals were my first NFL team but it was a long time ago. You have to go back to the Horst M­uhlmann era. 

   He was the place kicker for the Bengals from 1969 to 1974.  He was a good kicker but his first six years in professional sports he was a soccer goalkeeper for Schalke 4 in what became the German Bundesliga, according to Wikipedia.  

   Muhlmann still holds the record for longest field goal by a Bengal in the post season. He kicked a 46-yarder in a playoff loss at Miami in 1973.

   I figured that Muhlmann data might not be enough to land me in the in crowd among Bengals fans (if there is one). So in pre-draft preparation I found “Welcome to the Jungle: Everything You Need to Know to be a Bengals Fan” by Mary Schmitt Boyer.

   Also I clicked “like” on the “Cincy Jungle” Facebook page.  This morning the faithful are cheering the arrival of Burrow. One post shows a picture of Burrow holding a championship trophy (something no Bengal has ever done). The post forecasts, “The beginning of a special era of Bengals football.”

   Bengals fans…..wait…we Bengals fans have heard that before. But hey, we/re undefeated for the moment.

   So first the Bengals, then the other teams were on the clock last night. Question is, will they be on the calendar?

   League officials are scurrying about (virtually of course) making plans for a season I don’t think will ever happen. They plan to release the regular season schedule on May 9.

   At any rate, we did have us a sweet diversion last night didn’t we? I for one, am going back for more tonight.

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