AFC North: Brett Kostoff

Brett Kostoff is one of the more popular (infamous?) people in our AFC North community. Kostoff was a longtime Cincinnati Bengals fan who recently auctioned his fandom on eBay and wound up a card-carrying member of Steeler Nation.

Occasionally, we will check in with Kostoff to see how he's doing with his newfound fandom. With the lockout over, here is Kostoff's latest update:
"As far as being a Steelers fan, it's like nothing I've experienced in sports. Steeler fans are intelligent and know the game. They would rather tell you how great their best players are instead of bashing their best players (Bengals). The Steelers are the most well-respected organization in football today (Ravens, Cowboys, Bengals fans save it, you envy the Steelers. Got six?). Steeler Nation is the best fan base in the NFL. They live, die everything Steelers. For fans to have as much passion and love for a team in April and May as they do in September and January is unreal! Everything the organization does really can't be questioned by fans. They have made moves in previous seasons that have been questioned - letting go Plaxico Burress, Santonio Holmes, Joey Porter, Alan Faneca to name a few and the end result remains the same. A steady winner and replacements that continue to fill those shoes and make fans forget about such impact players. The biggest difference to me is the expectations - anything less than a Super Bowl is unacceptable in Pittsburgh. In Cincinnati to not have a top-10 draft pick the following year is considered a successful year. I've meet so many great Steeler fans through my website that I would defend them against anyone. I've been nothing but engulfed in everything Pittsburgh Steelers."

Kostoff seems to be fine with the transition. He has yet to root for Pittsburgh in a game. But that will come next week in the Steelers' preseason debut against the Washington Redskins on Aug. 12.
The Cincinnati Bengals were rated the worst sports franchise in ESPN The Magazine's annual rankings.

In all, 122 professional teams were rated in numerous categories such as players, fan relations and affordability. The Bengals brought up the rear out of all the teams from the NFL, NBA, NHL and Major League Baseball.

"The best teams in sports find ways to reward their fans' devotion," ESPN The Magazine editor Peter Keating said in a statement. "The teams at the top of our Ultimate Standings are winners on the field, but, as we write in the magazine, they’re truly notable for returning fans' love."

For the past 20 years, there has been little reward for being a Bengals fan.

Recently, we interviewed one Cincinnati fan who grew tired of the losing and gave up his allegiance to join Steeler Nation. Another more famous Bengals fan, Nick Lachey, also expressed his displeasure with the organization to the AFC North blog.

Cincinnati hasn't won a playoff game in two decades, doesn't put enough money into its product and ownership continues to make head-scratching decisions. The Bengals' franchise player -- quarterback Carson Palmer -- recently quit on the team, which only adds to its awful reputation.

I don't cover all four professional sports, so it's hard for me to say if Cincinnati deserves to be rated dead last. But there is no debate the Bengals should to be near the bottom of this list based on their poor and lengthy track record.
Last week former Cincinnati Bengals fan Brett Kostoff caused a tizzy in the AFC North blog after we updated his story on changing allegiances to the Pittsburgh Steelers. Fed up with the Bengals' losing ways, Kostoff sold his fandom on eBay for $510 and is now a card-carrying member of Steeler Nation.

Kostoff received a lot of criticism from our community. So, in fairness, we asked Kostoff if he wanted to respond to the heat he's received. Here was his message:
"For all the people who thought I CHOSE the Steelers, it was an AUCTION. The auction was open to all NFL teams and luckily a great organization had a fan that won the highest bid. The Carolina Panthers, Houston Texans, Washington Redskins, Denver Broncos, Buffalo Bills, Detroit Lions had just as much of a chance as the Steelers. People act like the only teams I listed was Steelers, Ravens, Patriots, Packers and Eagles as the teams I would like to be a fan of. The "bandwagon" fan is far from the truth, if that was the case I would have choose my new team on my own, not left it at the hands of the public. The bidding started at $19.95 and I had no clue if anyone would even look at the auction much less it get into the media. I guess people wanted me to not allow the Steelers to be in the bidding? If I was unhappy with how poorly an organization (Bengals) was being ran for 20 years, why would I leave a team off which has been a model for how an organization (Steelers) should be ran? That's not very smart. Bengals fans please realize Cincinnati is not a rival to Pittsburgh fans. The Ravens are the rival. Cincinnati's rival is Cleveland (comparable organizations).
"As far as never being a fan? I find it comical. Honestly, if you are/were a true fan for the past 20 seasons of the Bengals and haven't contemplated "What am I doing?" or "Why don't I just don't cheer for another team?" then you must not have been a true fan. I owned season tickets since Paul Brown Stadium opened in the first row of the stadium/ I guess all the "fair-weather" fans own those. I was still watching games in December between 1998-2002 when they had a combined 19-61 record. I was at games in December in 15 degree weather when they were finishing up those 4-12 seasons, while all these "so-called" true fans were at home. I cared so much, that when you feel like the owner doesn't care as much as you, something has to give. Cincinnati is full of fair-weather fans. The two playoff teams in 2005 and 2009 there was more Bengals fans all of sudden in Cincinnati then ever before. People screaming "I've always loved the Bengals." Right! Fool somebody else. I was at last season's game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers when Carson Palmer went over 25,000 passing yards for his career and the entire stadium booed a QB who is the only one to lead them to those two playoff games in the last 20 seasons. I'm not the "true fans" who threw garbage in his yard after a loss. I'm not the true fan who called radio stations non-stop after every game yelling that Carson has to go. When Carson does say he wants out, which is what all fans around here wanted, everyone calls him a "quitter" and throws him under the bus. I don't blame Bengals fans for sticking with them and not doing what I have done. I invest a lot of time and money into the organization that I cheer for and 20 years of never seeing a playoff win was enough for me to take my money and loyalty elsewhere. If you paid your cable bill for 20 years and it only worked two (winning seasons) out of those 20 years, yet all your neighbors were getting eight out of 20 years, you wouldn’t inquire any more details since you've been loyal? What reward have Bengals fans gotten from ownership to remain loyal?
"As far as Pittsburgh fans go - I hope they can/will accept me. If they don't I understand. I will be up there for a few games and the majority of Pittsburgh fans have been great to me so far. I will put in my time, study and cheer them on as good going forward as any fan in Pittsburgh."

Do you agree or disagree with Kostoff's response? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comment section below.