Enquirer beat writers Paul Dehner Jr. and Jim Owczarski give their analysis of the Bengals off season moves.
Sam Greene, firstname.lastname@example.org
Mike Brown and the Bengals resisted honoring former players for decades, standing pat against a Ring of Honor, Hall of Fame or even pre-game ceremonies for specific anniversaries or individuals.
Last year was the most dynamic change of direction in that stance, when they honored the top 50 players in their history for their 50th season as well as a cast of other former players.
They attempted to bring all of them back to be recognized at halftime of a home game. There were events throughout each of those weekends.
Brown admitted he enjoyed much of the nostalgia and good feelings that came with the initiative and seemed to have changed his tune on the entire process.
This year looks to be further proof of that as multiple members of the 1988 AFC Championship team told BX the club is bringing them back to celebrate 30 years for the Bengals’ home opener against the Baltimore Ravens on Thursday, Sept. 13.
The team is expected to release details of any potential activities and ceremonies next week.
The Bengals, of course, lost Super Bowl XXIII in Miami to Joe Montana and the 49ers, but in speaking with players and coaches from those teams a special bond has kept them connected through the years.
“There are a number of charity golf tournaments and fund raisers,” said coach of the 1988 Bengals Sam Wyche. “I try to go back to as many as I can when I wasn’t getting a new heart. A lot of the guys come back and I go to other events like that. I see people talking to other people, sponsors and such, and not as much inter-mixing of how have you been, as there are within that Bengal team, in particular that team. I tried to have the atmosphere with all the teams I coached, but that one had something special going for it for a lot of reasons.”
Fans reacted positively to the effort of the 50th season, however, it wasn’t the first time the particular team had been honored on the field. Members of the ’88 team meshed with the 1981 Super Bowl team in a ceremony prior to the Bengals’ 2013 playoff game against San Diego.
The team obviously hopes the outcome of this season goes better than that playoff loss and the 2017 season as a whole, but the days of the common complaint from former players feeling left out in the dark by the organization appear to also be a part of history.