The Super Bowl through the Eyes of a Cincinnati Friar

The Super Bowl through the Eyes of a Cincinnati Friar


Fr. John Bok, OFM

I was born and raised in Cincinnati. Nearly 48 of my 59 years of ministry as a Franciscan priest have been in Cincinnati. As is true of the majority of Cincinnatians, I am very excited about the Super Bowl, which will be played two days from now (at the time I am writing this). When you read this, you will know who won: the Cincinnati Bengals or the Los Angeles Rams. It has been fun to be part of the excitement and civic pride that have accompanied the Bengals’ success in the playoffs this season.

Why are we all so excited? Because we have experienced pain and suffering for the last 30 years. The Bengals were founded in 1968. They started off as a competitive and somewhat successful expansion team under the leadership of Coach Paul Brown. They were even good enough to play in two Super Bowls in the 1980s: Super Bowl XVI in 1982 and Super Bowl XXIII in 1989.

Unfortunately, we lost both times in close games to the San Francisco 49ers.
The Cincinnati Bengals became the Cincinnati “Bungles” in the 1990s. They had eleven straight losing seasons. They were probably the worst team of any team in professional sports during those terrible years. Before their playoff wins this season, the Bengals went 31 years without a playoff win. They did not get in many playoff games and have not won a playoff game since 1990. In the last two seasons, we went 2-14-0 in the 2019 season and 4-11-1 in the 2020 season. And here we are in the Super Bowl in the 2021 season. Bear with us for being excited.

I have a friend in the Milwaukee area who is a faithful benefactor of our province. He has great devotion to St. Anthony of Padua and is a big fan of the Milwaukee Bucks of the NBA. During the finals of the playoffs in July, he asked St. Anthony to help the Bucks, and they won the NBA championship—their first time in 50 years! So I asked St. Anthony’s help, too, at least that the Bengals play their best. I know there are a lot of Franciscans in California, including Los Angeles. Some of them are probably praying to St. Anthony, too. I can definitely say, win or lose, it’s been an exciting season for us. We have Joe Burrow and many young players. We can look ahead with confidence that the Cincinnati “Bungles” are definitely behind us, and we can hope for many more exciting seasons. GO BENGALS!

Fr. John

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