JUNGLE FEVER: Catch It — Then Wait Three or Four Decades

By Mark Smith
Enchantment Sports
Editor in Chief

Eventually, I will bring Enchantment Sports out of hiatus.

A hiatus that started when sports stopped with the Covid-19 shutdown.

It will happen.

But while we’re still in the planning stages of getting everything going again, I thought it would be entertaining to post this podcast I did with Henry Tafoya on his Game Face Live Facebook page.

Henry (weekday anchor) and I (weekend anchor) were the KOB-TV 4 Eyewitness Sports team in the early 1980s.

I might write more about that down the road.

And while we discussed some TV sports coverage from the “golden age,” the main theme of this podcast was Fan-demonium — Cincinnati Bengals style.

In particular, a schmucky young sportscaster’s “Jungle Fever” — years before those funny striped helmets were even a musing in Paul or Mike Brown’s craniums.

See the link here.

Host Joe O’Neill also interviewed me on his 101.7 ESPN The Team Radio show about the subject two weeks ago.

It’s been a blast getting back on the airwaves because of the Bengals’ success.

Even though I didn’t complete a single pass, make a tackle or gain a yard rushing.

Brown, Brown, Browns and Bengals

How I became a Bengals fan isn’t a long story.

The seeds were actually planted in Cleveland — figuratively.

I’m a Burque Boy, born and raised. We’re not exactly and NFL paradise.

As a tiny tyke, my favorite player was Jim Brown, my favorite coach Paul Brown and my favorite team the Browns.

As an Albuquerquean, I had to pick a team. The Browns were my early choice.

But Paul Brown was canned in 1963 and Jim Brown called it a career after the 1965 season.

It was time to move on.

After a brief, but extremely passionate love of the Dallas Cowboys (who else could you watch on the tube in Burque), it was on to the AFL, Paul Brown and a fun and creative bunch of Bengals.

There have been a thousand of stories along the way of my ups and mostly downs with the Cardiac Kitties, but I’m going to save time and space and just link to Henry’s podcast.

If you have a few minutes — or an extra hour — you might find it entertaining.

Unless your a Rams fan.

Or Pittsburgh Squealers lover, for that matter.

It’s so trite and easy to be a fan of the Squealers (although I will always root for Zach Gentry), by the way. Sticking with a Bengals bunch is so much more difficult.

And satisfying.

Every 30 years or so.

The Way We Were — And Still Are

It truly has been a fun and entertaining season, no matter the outcome on Sunday.

A season I truly thought would be stellar — albeit maybe not to this level.

And I have had a blast digging through the piles of boxes in my garage looking for old paraphernalia, mementos, posters and such.

The mantle over our fireplace (below) keeps getting more packed with each playoff win, but it will be back in the boxes — win or lose — after Sunday.

Some of the stuff brought back so many memories, and left me scratching my head about who gave me certain items.

The painted poster in the featured image above the story was from an Amy Stein.

It was with a pile of rolled up posters — from KISS to Boston from Rod Carew to Greg Cook.

I took the painted poster to Hobby Lobby to see if I could get it fixed up, and I’m amazed with how it came out. I hope Amy is alive and well — and thinking about her brilliant work of art from some 40 years ago.

Thank you Amy Stein!

The hand-made sand painted clock was from a customer when I worked in the Broadway electronics department for about a year.

I think I had sold her a TV, a stereo and a VCR and she was so pleased that she returned and asked me what my favorite team was.

A week or so later, she was back with the clock.

Wow!

I would love to touch base with either of those women who made these for me, but that was more 30 or 40 years ago.

Having some preseason action on the Cats to win more than 6.5 games, the AFC North (18-1), the AFC (50-1 and 60-1) and this whole shebang (85-1 to 120-1) has, indeed, added a little pleasure to the process.

Wish I knew who made me this. It was a gift from a great customer around 1991.

But unlike so many insane, diehard fans from Duke University to the Duke City and from Big D to the Big Apple, a Bengals loss on Sunday won’t send me diving off the Tingley Beach bridge.

I don’t want to get muddy.

But a loss would be far from the end of the world.

After all, I’m not a young, wild child any longer.

A win?

And, yes, there will probably be a car horn honk or two.

Maybe even a Joe Burrow-type cigar lit.

Smoked?

That’s another story.

I bought a couple, just in case.

But I’ve never puffed one.

My buddy Gary Allen said to only do so if I’m in the vicinity of a lavatory.

That’s all TBD.

Brock Smith and Robyn Smith on Griegos Elementary School’s Super Bowl Friday

All I know is because of this season, I found a lifetime of memories.

My wife has become football fan.

Sort of.

At least, she now understands what the yellow line on the field means.

And my son — although still a Dolphins fan — wears his Bengals gear and provides all the karma he can muster for the old man.

An old man who really feels young again.

And who knows how to hedge his bets — just in case the Rams roll.


Mark Smith has worked in New Mexico sports media for more than four decades, and is one of the most decorated sports journalists in state history. Smith has won more than 30 combined awards in print, television and radio and has been honored nationally for investigative reporting. He is the editor in chief of Enchantment Sports. Contact him at mark.enchantmentsportsNM@gmail.com.

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