CINCINNATI — When Bengals tight end C.J. Uzomah asked, "Why not us?" last summer, the Cincinnati faithful asked the same question — why can't this Bengals squad succeed? Why can't they win the AFC North and win their first playoff game in more than 30 years?
Now, as the team prepares for the Super Bowl, the team has adopted a new motto: "It is us."
"'Why not us' makes us sound like we're the underdogs — and we're not," Uzomah said. "In our heart of hearts, we believe we're the best team in the league."
The new motto is not a question — it's a proclamation, setting a new standard for the Cincinnati Bengals.
"I'm tired of the underdog narrative," quarterback Joe Burrow said. "We're a really, really good team. We're here to make noise and teams are going to have to pay attention to us."
Should Cincinnatians — a group of people who often carry an underdog attitude when it comes to their city — also adopt that motto? Anastasia Mileham, executive director of Cincinnati Experience, says it's time to show off this team and this city.
"We're tired of being called the underdog," Mileham said. "My organization brings visitors to town all the time who are so surprised by what they find — the beauty of the hills and river, and there's so much to do and it's easy to get around. But we need to turn that narrative around, there's no reason to be surprised since this is a great city."
For those who may need to be reminded, Mileham confirms Cincinnati punches well above its weight class.
"We're No. 1 of 13 cities in the U.S. with professional companies in all of the arts — ballet, opera, symphony, theater," Mileham said. "We [have music] venues all over the region...incredible food and drink tours...hike and bike trails. You know the urban core is hopping from Findlay Market to OTR. We have these incredible festivals and sporting events."
And it isn't just Cincinnatians saying the city is great — national publications list Cincinnati as one of the top cities for recent college graduates, beer and food lovers and more. So Burrow is right — no more "Why not us?"
It is us.