I bring tidings of great joy to those of you who thought this Reds season had become a long and bitter struggle to strand less than the population of Cincinnati on base: Our fair city has returned to Family Feud.
Those of you old enough to share glorious memories of the Apex Age of Western Civilization (1981-1992, or one year past the general stench of the 70’s and one day before grunge music showed up) will remember the week in March of 1989 when the Bengals played the 49ers in a rematch of the Super Bowl. I don’t remember which team won the week; I do remember watching these episodes on a constant Betamax loop.
My Bengals had lost the Super Bowl in one of the worst fashions possible, the Internet didn’t exist for twelve year old girls who still had Cabbage Patch dolls, and here was an opportunity to make Pierce Holt feel bad. Best of all, Joe Montana was completely unpresent. Joe Montana was too good for The Feud.
It was all I had.
Boomer Esiason, David Fulcher, James Brooks, Anthony Munoz, and Ickey Woods played for Sam Wyche’s favorite charity, the Greater Cincinnati Coalition for the Homeless. Boomer was the head of the family and his hair is feathery and bright. Cincinnati native Ray Combs was there.
We are revisiting this because seeing our city represented in broader pop culture is the concert equivalent of going “WHHHHOOOOOOOOO!” when Buffett walks off the Riverbend stage at intermission announcing that he is going for some Skyline Chili. It means we are seen. It means we are experiencing reach beyond ourselves. It means that as strong as the gravitational pull of I275 is, we are not a black hole of contact regarding the outside world.
Last week, Cincinnati was once again represented before the survey board when Sean Casey and other broadcasters from the MLB Network showed up against the cast of Inside the NBA. Now various Bengals have recently appeared on Family Feud since the Super Bowl rematch, but as the Bengals became dead to me during the two-minute drill of the 2016 Steelers wild card game, it doesn’t count. They were giant air pockets in front of the microphone as far as I’m concerned. It just never happened. Also I had this column halfway done before I thought to look up if Sean was indeed the first Cincinnatian back.
This was perhaps the first time I’ve watched Family Feud since then, and the survey answers on the board no longer flip over, and the team names aren’t written in Little House on the Prairie cross-stitch, and I don’t know what’s going on with the LED Technicolor Dreamcoat studio background.
This was always a game show about your family versus the world—the opposing family, the survey answers, the clock. It’s you and the siblings and the uncles and the cousins. The money is good but the family shoving aside the squabbles for attention or what happened eighteen years ago is better.
There it Sean was, and there it was, and there we are.
Also there was Johnny Damon, currently enjoying retirement as a member of a 90s boy band:
If you understand sports, you understand this: The players come and go. The lights flicker brighter and dimmer. Everyone has the answer correct, or we all go down on three strikes together. It’s more than us.
It’s always more than just us.
Proud aunt Mary Beth Ellis is a freelance writer and college teacher who lives in Cincinnati, OH. Her home site, BlondeChampagne.com, has existed in at least some form since 2003, and Mary Beth has been a regular columnist with one publication or another from the age of 16. Her first book, Drink to the Lasses, was published in 2006. She currently teaches college, runs personal wine tastings, gives literary readings, and stares into the middle distance.