Ride or Die

B.J. Hill coming to the defense of teammate Joseph Ossai during postgame press conference is what football is all about

January 30, 2023

It’s Monday morning and everyone is scrambling to find someone to blame for the Cincinnati Bengals’ AFC Championship loss to the Kansas City Chiefs. The refs. Cincy mayor Matt Aftab. Eli Apple, per tradition. The scapegoaters have stopped at nothing and spared no one, but the consensus amongst traumatized football fans is that the loss largely belonged to Bengals defensive end Joseph Ossai, who pushed Mahomes as he was heading out of bounds with seconds remaining, drawing a 15-yard-flag thsat propelled the Chiefs into position for their game-winning field goal.

Ossai was seen sobbing on the sidelines after the play, as the CBS cameramen cashed in their hard-won karma chips. Even some teammates, such as linebacker Jermaine Pratt, could be heard pinning the loss on the 22-year-old's shoulders. Thanks to press access, social media, and the stakes of the situation, we were granted a glimpse behind the football curtain on Sunday night, and what we saw was messy, emotional, and, at times, ruthless.

For many, that will tell the full story and that’s fine. Take today, be mad, and then move on. If the way that game ended isn’t purely and simply “football” to you, then we haven’t been watching the same sport the last several years. Amidst all the fingerpointing and buck-passing, however, an important counter-narrative emerged. While some in and out of the Bengals organization were cursing Ossai to the bottom of the ocean and back, many more rallied around him, including teammate B.J. Hill, who stood beside Ossai throughout his postgame interview, guiding questions and providing moral support in a show of true friendship.

It’s not an easy watch and Hill’s bouncer schtick is a little overprotective at times, but it's still an important message for all the armchair critics out there. This—acknowledgement, understanding, leading by example—is what being a Big Man™ looks like. Not making personal attacks and issuing threats from behind a keyboard. In the end, Hill’s actions, and those actions of countless others in the Bengals locker room, helped to put a slightly less brutal spin on a decidedly brutal loss. The Bengals will be back, but it won’t be because of Burrow’s rookie deal, or Ja’Marr Chase’s route running, or a schedule loaded with AFC North strugglers. It will be because of camaraderie, togetherness, and toughness. It’ll be because of guys like Hill and the kids, like Ossai, who learned from him.