LOS ANGELES — Many Cincinnati Bengals fans are born that way, but there are fans in stripes all over the world, with no direct ties to the city the Bengals call home.
Among the people gathered this week with the Bengals West fan group in Eagle Rock, Los Angeles are fans who have suffered through decades-long Super Bowl drought having never set foot in the city of Cincinnati.
"The very first game I ever watched as a little kid was the Cincinnati Bengals and the Pittsburgh Steelers and everybody else was a Pittsburgh Steelers fan," said Darin Griffin, of Long Beach."So I go ‘Well I like the other team’ which is just my personality."
Griffin has stuck with the Bengals ever since he was a 6-year-old in Portland watching a rivalry game. He found the Bengals West group several years ago. Now, the Super Bowl has come to him - and pitted his adopted NFL favorite against his hometown team in an emotional game.
"To beat the Rams, that’s just going to be a little bittersweet because my father passed away last year and he was a huge Rams fan," Griffin said."So if they win, it would be ok because my dad would be happy."
Outside 5 Line Tavern was Danny Rowe, a die-hard Bengals fan from Los Angeles. He just made his first trip to Cincinnati, so why is he a Bengals fan?
It goes back to a team he played on as a kid.
"I was on [a team called] the Browns, so I wanted to research the Browns and Paul Brown and by the time I got to the end of the book, it told me he wasn't on the Browns anymore and he was on the Bengals," Rowe said. "So the very next year I joined the Bengals on the football team and been a Bengals fan ever since."
Rowe, whose nickname is "The Danimal," said he will never forget his one trip to Cincinnati, complete with the Bengal Jim's Before the Roar tailgate and VIP treatment at The Holy Grail at The Banks.
"[The doorman] looks at me and goes 'You drove here from California?'" he said. " He reaches down and grabs the rope and pulls it up, it was like a movie moment and ... I was like 'oh my god, this is how it feels?' and I walk in there and look to my left and see like a quarter mile of stink eye [in line]."
A trip he'll never forget, he said, and one that further solidified his love for the Cincinnati Bengals.