Tom Krasovic: San Diego Bengals? Cincinnati writer suggests franchise may need Joe Burrow to rescue it.

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SAN DIEGO — If Joe Burrow flops, the consequences could be epic, even by high standards of a top NFL draftee. The fallout would take the Bengals out of Cincinnati, posits a Cincinnati columnist who ties the franchise’s fate to the quarterback who went first in the draft.

“Burrow will get a mulligan his rookie year,” writes Paul Daugherty of the Cincinnati Enquirer. “After that, things need to change, radically and quickly. Or the moving vans will idle outside Paul Brown Stadium.”

No pressure, Joe. Rescue your childhood team or see it leave. (The Bengals’ stadium lease is up in 2026.)

Mulling the bleak outcome, Daugherty looks west. “If the Bengals stay on the 6-10/7-9 hamster wheel, well, maybe San Diego will still need a team.”

From San Diego, here’s a different forecast:

If Ohio Joe can’t save the day, Bengals moving vans roll to a stop near the Gateway Arch in St. Louis. Geography prevails. The team stays in the AFC North with Pittsburgh, Cleveland and Baltimore.

Follow the money. Trying to retain the Rams, St. Louis leaders came up with fat subsidies, losing the team only because the NFL wanted the Rams in Los Angeles. Once Rams owner Stan Kroenke showed he could build a palace in L.A., the path was cleared. Also, St. Louis went batty for a new XFL team, the Battlehawks, before the league went bankrupt this month.

I hope this for Bengals fans: Burrow shows his great 2019 season with LSU wasn’t a fluke and the Bengals stay in Cincinnati, their only home since the franchise’s first season in 1968.

San Diego having an NFL team would be fun, sure. The NFL is the best sport going.

It wouldn’t be fun to see City Hall get sucked into the NFL’s game of pitting cities against each other, bidding up the price of stadium subsidies. A tough economic case to make in normal times, funneling huge sums of public money toward an NFL stadium may become impossible to justify in the aftermath of the coronavirus pandemic. Already the economic shutdowns have blasted big holes in San Diego’s city budget for 2020.

If San Diego leaders were to seek an NFL team, and the NFL were to seek a return to San Diego, the choice of team would be obvious.

For sure, it wouldn’t be the Bengals. You go with the one that played in San Diego for 56 years. One more hint: It’s the team that went 12-4 in 2018, yet played before hostile home crowds last year in Carson.


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