CINCINNATI -- The Bengals owe the Cincinnati region an apology, Hamilton County Commissioner Todd Portune said Wednesday.
Portune said the Saturday playoff game against the Pittsburgh Steelers, which was hosted by the Bengals here in Cincinnati, was a display of “disgraceful” behavior.
The game included a series of controversial referee calls as well as hits and outbursts from players on both teams. Six fans were put in jail because of brawls that took place during the game, too.
Portune, who has been critical of the county's stadium deal with the Bengals in the past and at one point sued the team over it, personally called for Bengals’ owner Mike Brown to apologize for the game.
“I’ve received personal emails from people scattered across the country expressing their dismay that this was the face of Cincinnati,” Portune said during a Hamilton County Commissioner meeting Wednesday. “I’ve been waiting to hear an apology from Bengals’ ownership from what occurred.”
Several people weighed in on Twitter that an apology from the Bengals was unnecessary in response to Portune's comments. Bengals players have accused Pittsburgh coaches of baiting them to react negatively during the game.
Portune also said fans who hurled beer cans at Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger should be prosecuted.
People across the country saw beautiful images of Cincinnati and its rehabilitated downtown on their TV screens Saturday but Portune said unruly behavior from players and fans overshadowed all of that.
“The one thing people walked away from Cincinnati Saturday night is that Cincinnati is a place where bad behavior occurs,” Portune said.
Not everyone in Cincinnati agrees with Portune's comments. More than 40,000 fans have signed an online petition in support of the Bengals and calling for the NFL to investigate the AFC Wildcard game.
Hamilton County Commission President Chris Monzel said Portune was “spot on” with his comments. Monzel, who said he's coached sports team before, said the game set a bad example for children.
“Just the example, from the standpoint of sportsmanship – or lack thereof, speaks volumes,” Monzel said.
The commissioners and the Bengals have a history because the county built, operates and owns Paul Brown Stadium, where the team plays.