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The Reds hadn’t been to the playoffs since 1995, coming close only once _ in 1999 under McKeon, when they lost a one-game playoff to the Mets for the NL wild card. They had nine straight losing seasons heading into this year, their longest slump in more than a half-century.

The Bengals weren’t much better. They went from 1991-2004 without so much as a winning record, one of the longest such streaks of futility in NFL history. They finally broke through in 2005, winning the AFC North, and did it again last year.

The franchises used to share misery and Riverfront Stadium. The Bengals moved into Paul Brown Stadium in 2000, and Great American Ball Park opened in 2003.

Now, there are a few personal ties between the teams.

Benson grew up in Texas and played against Reds outfielder Laynce Nix in high school.

“I’m very excited for him,” Benson said. “He played quarterback. He was very solid. They never beat us, but he was a solid quarterback. But they would always give us a tough time on the baseball field.”

Benson hopes the Reds‘ success helps his team, too.

“You’d love for it to captivate the entire city and provide some energy for us all,” he said.