It's safe to say that typically, sports fans grow up developing a bond with their hometown teams.
Even when we move away, we might adopt the teams in the cities that we move to, but we still have those lingering ties that make us, force us, to pull for the teams that defined our childhood.
Even though I grew up in a city that had, at the time, teams representing the big four professional sports, only one of them mattered when I was a kid: the Atlanta Braves.
Mind you, I'm an Atlanta native, and I happened to grow up during the best years to be a Braves fan. I'm sure their run of success helped spark my interest in baseball and developed my dreams of becoming a big-league ballplayer before anything else.
I have foggy memories of the empty Fulton County Stadium years, but I really remember how alive the city felt when the Braves went from worst in the old National League West to make it to the World Series. They almost won it, too. To this day, seeing old footage of Kirby Puckett taking a swing in the Metrodome, against any pitcher, gives me nightmares. The same goes for Joe Carter ... and Jim Leyritz ... and Edgar Renteria ... (yeah, OK. So I do know a little heartbreak, too. Remembering Sid Bream's game-winning slide into home in the Pirates' now penultimate playoff game, though, makes the memories of heartbreak disappear.)
The reason I bring all of that up is because with New England coming to Cincinnati this weekend, one of the Northeast's native sons, Bengals.com's Geoff Hobson, typed a wonderful tribute to his late father. It was about his old man's love for both the Patriots and his adopted team, the Bengals. We start our Morning Stripes off with that story.
All you have to do is spend 10 seconds talking to Hobson and you can hear the Massachusetts in his voice. In these parts -- actually, any other part of the country outside of New England -- it's endearing. It's different. It's unique. It's who he is. Reading Hobson's story on the team site about his father, who died suddenly in June, kind of brings a tear to your eye. If you have a pulse and love sports, that is. As you can see in the piece, in the latter years of his life that spanned 87 years, Korea War vet Roy Hobson moved from Boston to Cincinnati and instantly became a Bengals fan. Like we mentioned before, he always kept a love for the Patriots in his blood, but he found himself, like many of you, riding on the Bengals roller coaster for much of the past decade. Really strong story. Thanks to Geoff for sharing.
One way the Bengals themselves are getting ready for Sunday's game against the Patriots is to address depth issues at linebacker. As you can read on ESPN.com's NFL Nation page and on the Cincinnati Enquirer's website, the Bengals added veteran linebacker Michael Boley to the mix Tuesday. With his addition, they shored up an area that has been of concern since the end of the preseason.
When it comes to getting its quarterback ready for games this year, the Browns have taken a mostly hands off approach, according to one national NFL columnist. NFL.com's Michael Silver essentially writes that, according to sources, Andy Dalton has been babied through bouts of inconsistency that have arisen in practices since he has been in Cincinnati. If that's true, that's pretty interesting, and potentially harmful to the already horrid narrative about Dalton that has played out in the wake of his 206-yard, no-touchdown performance in last Sunday's loss to the Browns.
Speaking of Dalton, keep an eye out Wednesday morning for our weekly "QB Watch" segment on him.