Andy Scheidler

Question: Following Joe Burrow’s injury, is it time for Bengals fans to become Colts fans?

Joe Burrow was the beacon of light shining on the shores of Winning Island. And just like that, the light went dark.

Welcome to being a Bengals fan.

Burrow was off to a pretty dang good start during his rookie campaign. He’d thrown for 2,688 yards, which ranks fourth in NFL history for most yards in a player’s first 10 games. And he was on pace to break Andrew Luck’s record for most passing yards by a rookie.

Sadly, he won’t get the chance to break Luck’s mark of 4,374.

Burrow suffered a nasty hit to his left knee Sunday. The result: a torn ACL, a torn MCL and “other structural issues.” I’m not exactly sure what that means, but it doesn’t sound good.

NFL team’s feature 53 players on their active roster, so one man clearly doesn’t define a football team. But the quarterback is typically the most important of them all.

Burrow provided a reason for hope to Bengals fans. He set all kinds of records last year, helping LSU win a national title. The Bengals were fortunate enough to land the No. 1 draft pick, and the stars seemed to be aligning for a bright future.

We know Burrow won’t return to the field this year, and he could be fortunate to return at any point next season. You just never know how long it’s gonna take when it’s an injury so horrific.

Maybe Bengals fans should root for the Colts the rest of this year and possibly the next. And if they did, would they even be capable of switching back?

Typically, fans pick their favorite teams based on geography. The closer you are, the more likely you will root for that team over another.

Growing up, it always felt like Greensburg/Decatur County was home to Colts fans. And Batesville/Ripley County was home to Bengals fans.

I decided to check if my childhood instinct was correct and calculated distances.

It’s approximately (depending on which route you want to take once you get to Indianapolis) 49 miles from Greensburg to Lucas Oil Stadium, whereas it’s about 63 miles to Paul Brown Stadium in Cincinnati.

It’s very similar for Batesville, just the other way around. It’s only 47 miles to PBS, while it’s 64-ish miles to Lucas Oil.

Based solely on mileage, it appears football fans in Greensburg should be Colts fans and fans in Batesville should root for the Bengals.

Of course, nothing is cut and dried and proximity isn’t some sports commandment that must be adhered to at all costs. This sports we’re talking about, not something serious like politics (I won’t go there).

In fact, I’m an exception to the proximity rule. Although I grew up in southern Decatur County, I chose to follow and root for the Bengals. My reasoning: I was already a Reds fan, so why not root for the football team also in that city?

Keep in mind this was in the early 1990s when both the Bengals and Colts were terrible. It was pre-Payton Manning, so it’s not like I shunned rooting for a Super Bowl contender every year just so I could be miserable and watch the Bengals go 3-13 year after freaking year.

Watching the Bengals lose has become a time-honored tradition, sort of like a Groundhog Day that happens every Sunday in the fall.

If there’s one good thing about being a Bengals fan, it’s the ability to deal with defeats and setbacks. Heck, that’s what we expect. Sure, the setbacks still sting, but that same old numb feeling quickly sets in.

When a rare victory comes along, it’s cause for celebration. And if the Bengals make the playoffs, shoot, that means it’s time to pop a bottle of champagne.

As previously mentioned, there is no book of sports commandments, which means fans are allowed to change allegiances. Tired of how awful your team is, how pathetic the ownership is, how they never contend for a championship? Then start rooting for a new team.

Well, that’s easier said than done. Admittedly, I’ve thought about what it would be like to quit rooting for the Bengals and to change allegiances to the Colts or another team. It’s impossible not to dream about how amazing it would feel to root for a perennial winner.

But sports fans are stubborn. We don’t give up easily. And we’re loyal – sometimes to a fault.

Maybe someday I’ll finally be fed up with the mediocrity, the bad breaks and the constant losing that I’ll quit on the Bengals.

But that day won’t be anytime soon.

Here’s wishing Burrow a very speedy recovery.

To submit a question, send an email to Andy Scheidler at andy.scheidler@greensburgdailynews.com or call 812-663-3111 ext. 217401.

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