NFL teams shouldn’t be consistently bad over multiple decades. The league is not college football, where financial, geographic, and branding disparities can keep a program up or down for generations regardless of its leadership. Nor is it baseball or soccer, where the richest teams can spend their way to a decent chance to win a title. The NFL has had a salary cap since 1994, and the worst team in the league has gotten the first overall draft pick for a lot longer than that. To miss the playoffs more than five or so years in a row takes genuine ineptitude, and to have so many down periods repeatedly over many years is even harder.
Enter the Cincinnati Bengals, who have had five different playoff droughts of five-plus years in their 54 seasons as an NFL or AFL franchise. The Bengals have played in the postseason 14 times and