The Cincinnati Bengals season was not looking at the start of the 2022 season, going 0-2, which is the death knell for any team with playoff aspirations. Joe Burrow’s quarterback play offset the glaring deficiencies with their offensive line, earning them a Super Bowl appearance though falling short against the Los Angeles Rams. The team overcame their early season woes to come within a game of returning to the Super Bowl, though losing to the Kansas City Chiefs in back-breaking fashion 23-20.
The Bengals are 3-0 against the Chiefs at Arrowhead, which led to serious trash-talking from Cincy. The term “Burrowhead” was tossed around a lot, but most, if not all, the classless jawing came from cornerback Eli Apple, who acts as if he’s played All-Pro for his entire career. Spoiler: he’s not a top corner. The New York Giants overreached to take him number 10 overall during the 2016 NFL draft, quickly becoming a locker-room distraction. Giants’ safety Landon Collins called him a “cancer,” Most veterans pointed out Apple’s appalling immaturity regarding becoming a professional athlete. Apple went on to play for the Saints in 2018 after being traded. He signed with the Carolina Panthers for a hot second in 2020 before eventually landing in Cincinnati two years ago.
After winning the divisional round, Apple tweeted “Cancun on three” to Buffalo Bills’ wide receiver Stefon Diggs, which some took as a Damar Hamlin, given the emoji he used. After losing the AFC championship game, Apple and pretty much the entire city of Cincinnati were torched. It got so bad that Apple’s mom had to deactivate her account (via SBNation):
Cancun on 3 🏿 https://t.co/oOHSw1AMsT— Eli Apple (@EliApple) January 24, 2023
When Diggs sees Eli Apple in the Cancun hotel lobby pic.twitter.com/saDhdxO1Y5— Aaron (@Aaroncabrera_) January 30, 2023
Eli Apple when he opens up his Twitter. pic.twitter.com/6Qa6CQhdbo— Sal (@AnaFather) January 30, 2023
Eli Apple came damn close to achieving the impossible this season: Making the Bengals unlikeable. His penchant for undeserved trash talk, paired with ceaselessly mocking the Buffalo Bills on Twitter following their playoff game meant that there was definitely a segment of people who wanted to see Cincinnati lose only so Apple could get his comeuppance.
And my goodness, were people ready to oblige. From the second the AFC Championship ended “Eli Apple” was trending, and after a couple of hours of endless mentions, mockery, and asking when Eli was heading to Cancun after suggesting a week ago that the Bills do the same. It wasn’t long that his mom couldn’t take it anymore.
Nobody in Cincinnati should be ashamed of what the Bengals achieved this season, outside of Eli Apple who should remain shamed. This team managed to overcome a Super Bowl hangover and pull together once more for a deep run which was only a play or two away from returning to the big game for the second straight year.
It feels like we’re running all this back, unlike other teams who have been bounced from the playoffs. Buffalo has some soul searching to do, and some aging players to boot. The 49ers are going to need to address their QB position and rework the roster themselves.
Stay off social media, Apple. Perhaps for a few months.