By Mark Carpenter –
Last week I wrote about 50 years of Cincinnati Bengal memories, some are good, some are bad, and some border on the absurd-think Klingler, Akili, or Dave Shula. Even with all the craziness that accompanies being a member of Who-Dey nation, the Bengals have given me many memorable moments and last week I shared numbers 10 through 5 in my ode to a David Letterman Top Ten List.
So now we move on to numbers 4 though 1…..another drum roll please.
4. Anything Ochocinco- Despite all the sideshows, Chad Johnson is one of my all-time favorite Bengal players. Never in the history of the franchise has one player brought so much anticipation to a stadium full of people. What will Chad do next? On some bad Bengal teams, Chad still made the team fun to watch with of course, his variety of touchdown dances.
Sitting in the stadium and hoping that Chad would score every touchdown just to see the next dance. Sometimes the antics overshadowed the fact that #85 was a fantastic route-runner with incredible hands and footwork, and the uncanny ability to shake off defenders. Chad made the “No Fun League” fun again.
3. 34 seconds- Stanford Jennings takes a 49ers kickoff all the way to the house and for sure, the Bengals were about to win their first Super Bowl and forever change the course of team history. Oh not so fast! Montana to Taylor with 34 seconds left= the most heart-breaking moment in 50 years. I was watching the game at my parents’ house along with an older gentleman from church who paced the floor more than I did.
It’s almost like that loss put a curse on the franchise, because they ain’t been that close since. Maybe the rest of the day should have been evident after Tim Krumrie broke his leg. That game was depressing no matter how you looked at it. I was in the stands for the AFC Championship game and there is nothing like being on hand when your team wins and goes to the Super Bowl-at least for 59 minutes and 24 seconds.
2. Shuffling with Ickey- Refer back to number 3 on this one. One of the big highlights of that Super Bowl season was the emergence of this unknown running back from UNLV who teamed with James Brooks to form a dynamic backfield duo. But who of you out there can tell me that you didn’t pick up a football or whatever you had handy and tried the Ickey Shuffle? Almost like Chad and his celebrations, the stadium was ripe with anticipation when the Bengals got near the goal line. In fact, I think all of you should do the Shuffle when you read this great newspaper.
I met Ickey once and he signed a Sports Illustrated cover for me, signed it “To my homeboy.” Yep, Ickey’s my homeboy.
And finally we reach this writer’s top Bengal memory…and man was it cold that day,
1. The Freezer Bowl- They talked about cancelling the game, well it was kind of cold, wind chills of -59 degrees. No big deal, let’s play football and the Chargers never knew what hit them. It’s not the beach Dan Fouts-it’s a Cincinnati winter.
The stories I have from that day are so many, from having one of the only cars that would start on the college campus, to sitting in the top row of Riverfront Stadium and my sister whining about the cold, to my fingers being so frozen that I could not put them in my pocket to get my keys out after the game, and the list goes on. I have no recollection of what I wore to stay warm, but I know I was there (have the ticket stub signed by Ross Browner as proof),
There was something even more significant about that day that I wouldn’t realize until many years later. January 10, 1982 would be a memorable day in my life, but January 10, 1997 would be much more significant. On that cold Cincinnati day, we welcomed into the world a young man who has become pretty important in our lives. Funny how life comes full circle.
So there you have it- with apologies to Dave, my Top Ten memories as a Bengals fan. Makes you want to just go out and Shuffle, doesn’t it?