CINCINNATI — As the Bengals prepare to head to the AFC Championship Game, fans all across the city are finding ways to join Who Dey Nation.
“(Saturday’s game was) wonderful because they won, but it is a little bit of a heart attack place. That last minute stuff really gets to you,” said fan Eileen Glawitsch, who was picking up some new Bengals gear for her daughter at Cincy Shirts Monday. “Today I bought her another Andy Warhol one she wanted — and she also wanted something about the Titans."
A steady line of customers filled the store all day.
“It’s been like Black Friday every single day for the past two weeks, and I’ll take it every day of the week as long as the Bengals keep winning,” said Nicholas Johnson with Cincy Shirts. “I don’t think we’ve ever seen anything like this.”
Lifelong fan Water Dobbins Jr. said he ordered several shirts.
“A couple of Ja’Marr Chase shirts…I’ll probably wear it everyday this week,” he said.
Dobbins said he’s still in disbelief the Bengals are in the conference championship.
“It’s (typically) disappointing at this time of the year," Dobbins said. "Most times, if you’re a football fan you’re always watching football, but your local team is never there. But, I’m pinching myself to see if it’s real."
It’s not just Bengals fans that are riding the high. Fiona the hippo is too — at least in the mind of Richard Cowdrey, illustrator of 'Fiona the Hippo.' Cowdrey made up a special image of Fiona for game ‘Dey’ featuring the lovable hippo decked out in Bengals stripes.
“Fiona represents Cincinnati in so many ways,” Cowdrey said. “I’m just as nuts as everybody else over the Bengals, it was just a natural combination. And in fact today, I’m doing (another) one. The one I did Friday got what, 10,000 views and thousands of shares. The one I am going to put up tomorrow will be even better.”
And, on lawns across Cincinnati, you may see the message “Bengals Nation.”
“We’ve had Bengals Nation, happy birthday signs that had the Bengals stuff all over, and then of course we always have to have a ‘Who Dey’ as well,” said Amanda Carrier, creator of Cincy Yard Notes. The company, which Carrier started during the pandemic, sets up greeting signs on your front lawn.
Carrier said the signs have been a way for people to connect and create photo opportunities for birthdays, tailgates and parties.
“With everything going on right now it’s a little difficult to try and get everyone together and really in the spirit of being back to normal and happy, so it’s really fun to be able to surprise someone with something, come out to something they’re not typically used to and be able to celebrate not only with them, but everyone around them also,” Carrier said.
Whether it's a sign or a shirt, the items are firing fans up as they prepare to watch the Bengals take on the Chiefs.
"I think they’re going to do it this year, I really do," Glawitsch said. "It’s been such a downer the last couple of years, not for just football, but I just think this has really pepped everybody up.”