50 years of Bengal memories

By Mark Carpenter – 

50 years in Bengal land…seems like just yesterday. Growing up my football fortunes lived and died with #12 in Dallas, but I never forgot the hometown team. From Paul Brown to Marvin Lewis, Boobie Clark to Corey Dillon, Bill Bergey to Vontaze Burfict, Isaac Curtis to A.J. Green, Boomer to Andy, I’ve seen them all. Thirty years of season tickets brought me so many memories, some good and a lot bad. In this, the 50th anniversary season of the orange and black, the team is honoring its top 50 players. Well, I decided to be a little different and write about my Top Ten Bengal memories, and trust me, it was hard to narrow down the list to just 10 when you’ve been around as long as I have.
This week we will hit numbers 10 through 5. Drum roll, please…..
10. Jordan and the Cowboys- Little did I know that the team of my youth would become the team of my son’s youth. Somewhere along the way, my son became a Cowboys fan, but like me still has some love for the home team. A couple of years ago, I was able to take him to his first Cowboys game, when they came to the Jungle. Sadly for us Bengals fans, the “Boys” took home a win but I took home a memory.
9. Wilmington and the Wedding- In 1991, my future wife-to-be and I were headed north to her hometown of Marion, Ohio for our wedding. Now guys, if you didn’t marry a woman who is also a huge sports fans, I feel sorry for you. On the way to our wedding, my future spouse was agreeable to stopping in Wilmington to visit Bengals training camp, which is where the team trained then. How’s that for a woman on her way to her wedding? She even stood in line for the autographs, a practice which she continues to this day, somewhat begrudgingly. While we were on our honeymoon, Paul Brown passed away. Not sure if that was some kind of a sign or not.
8. December 10, 1989- If you were there, you will never forget it, and if you were a Bengals fan, you might still be laughing. Bengals vs. Seahawks, snow on the ground, a few inebriated fans deciding to throw snowballs on the field, and Sam Wyche grabbing the microphone and uttering some of the most famous words in Cincinnati sports history, “Will the next person that sees anybody throw anything onto this field, point them out, and get them out of here. You don’t live in Cleveland, you live in Cincinnati!” Though he was likely just a young pup, I bet Scott Dryden even got a kick out of that one.
7. Super Bowl XVI – The Bengals were actually playing in a Super Bowl, could you believe it? I was in college at the time and surrounded by Browns fans, so I took absolute pleasure in everything involved with that week. I had a friend who worked at a local sporting goods store make me a Cris Collinsworth jersey and a group of us gathered in the dorm lobby to watch the game. I don’t recall if there were any other Bengals fans with me, but as you know the game didn’t go well for the first half and the Bengals nearly pulled off an improbable second half comeback. I may have taken a little abuse after the loss, but if you are hearing it from Browns fans about a Super Bowl..well, it’s pretty easy to argue back.
6. The dastardly Kimo- If hating the Steelers wasn’t easy enough for me after what they did to the Cowboys in the 70’s, then it was super easy as a Bengals fan. Jan. 8, 2006, playoff game in the Jungle, crazy crowd pumped up for what many consider the best Benglas team ever. Carson Palmer drops back early in the game and lofts a perfect long pass into the arms of receiver Chris Henry for a 66-yard gain and you could sense that this just might be the day-until you looked back down the field and saw Palmer lying on the ground in agony and agony suddenly spreading through 60,000 fans, except for the ones waving those stupid yellow towels. How bad was it that an ex-Bengal had taken the “cheap” shot at Palmer’s knee and for all practical purposes killed the dream? In Bengal land, there have been a lot of “what might have beens” in 50 years.
5. Corey Dillon- Though Dillon was a malcontent whose time in Cincinnati didn’t end well, he may still be remembered as one of the most dynamic runners in team history. The night of Oct. 22, 2000, I was in the stands and witnesed one of the greatest games by a running back in NFL history when Dillon ripped off 278 yards. The place was electric every time he touched the ball and he didn’t disappoint. It really is a shame that Dillon had to play on so many terrible Bengals teams- another “what might have been.”
Back to a name from Bengal past that probably still haunts my brother to this day-Bill Bergey. That was the name I would yell out in our living room before I smashed him into the furniture with a Bergey tackle during our living room football games. And though she protested vehemently, I don’t think we ever broke one of Mom’s lamps.