The Cincinnati Bengals‘ 2021 season was almost something straight out of a movie.

A year ago, the Bengals were coming off a 4-11-1 season and they had a second-year quarterback in Joe Burrow that was returning from a torn ACL.

While the hopes for Burrow were high, there wasn’t a lot of confidence that Cincinnati would be a playoff team.

The Bengals, however, managed to win the AFC North behind the stellar play of Burrow (among others). Cincinnati then made an improbable run to the Super Bowl that nearly resulted in the franchise winning its first Lombardi Trophy.

Burrow was undoubtedly the reason the Bengals found success last season. His skills and elite leadership abilities were the catalysts for Cincinnati’s post-season success.

And because of Burrow, the Bengals will be a Super Bowl contender for the foreseeable future.

What’s wild, though, is that a current Pittsburgh Steelers assistant coach might be the reason why Burrow is even in Cincinnati.

Steelers linebackers coach Brian Flores, who was the Miami Dolphins head coach from 2019 to 2021 before he was surprisingly fired, had an opportunity to “tank” in 2019 and ensure that Miami got the No. 1 overall pick. That pick, of course, would’ve been used on Burrow.

The report that dropped on Monday, relevant to Flores’ lawsuit against the NFL, suggested that Dolphins owner Stephen Ross “jokingly” offered Flores $100k per loss to improve Miami’s draft position.

Flores refused. As a result, the Dolphins ended up going 5-11 and selecting No. 5 overall in the 2020 NFL Draft (they drafted Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa).

There’s some debate over whether or not the offer from Ross was legitimate or not. The NFL didn’t think it was. But that doesn’t really matter. It was implied. Flores thought he meant it, so it had to be in the back of Flores’ mind all season. Ross wanted the No. 1 pick, but Flores wanted to win games (as he should). If Flores would’ve complied with what he believed his owner wanted, then Burrow isn’t playing for the Bengals today.

Cincinnati and Pittsburgh are bitter rivals. But when the two teams meet this season, the Bengals’ front office should thank Flores. After all, his decision changed the entire trajectory of the Bengals franchise.

Featured image via USA TODAY Sports