Strong in my beliefs, the organization's lack of promoting their own history does a serious disservice to the legends of this franchise. Bob Johnson is the only player to have his number retired. While we understand the reasoning for NFL jerseys not being retired -- due to NFL rules on player positions creating a shortage of numbers that can be retired -- a number like 78 shouldn't ever be worn again. Maybe it won't. It hasn't since Munoz left for Tampa Bay. And what's the harm with retiring No. 14 or No. 7? Sure, Andy Dalton would have to find another, but these players are just a handful of the legends that this franchise produced, many of whom have supporting arguments for Hall of Fame consideration. Lemar Parrish's No. 20 and Ken Riley's No. 13.
With complete honesty, retiring jersey's isn't that big of a deal in the end. And it might raise a certain number higher in terms of lore. Like Clint Boling carrying on the tradition of good guards wearing No. 65, good players carrying on the number of other good players enriches those numbers. What if Dalton becomes one of the franchise's great quarterbacks? Now suddenly No. 14 is rich in deep tradition.
What we constantly fail to understand with this franchise is why there isn't a team Hall of Fame or, at the very least, a Ring of Honor. Teams like the Arizona Cardinals, the Dallas Cowboys, the Minnesota Vikings, the Miami Dolphins, the New York Giants, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the Denver Broncos, the Chicago Bears and the Baltimore Ravens are just a few organizations that promote a Ring of Honor. Even the Cleveland Browns recently announced a Ring of Honor. Browns President Mike Holmgren announced:
"Our heritage and alumni are vital parts of our organization," said Browns President Mike Holmgren. "The Cleveland Browns franchise has such a tremendous history and tradition that we felt it was extremely important to visibly honor the greats who have laid the groundwork for everyone associated with the Cleveland Browns. The creation of the Ring of Honor and the reinstitution of the Legends Program are just the start of how we plan to pay tribute to our history. When our fans now enter Cleveland Browns Stadium they will constantly be reminded of the great players and most memorable moments in our club’s past. The contributions of these 16 men will always be remembered."
Much like their Age of Helplessim, the Age of the Forgotten or The Lost Decade (whatever you want to call the period between Sam Wyche and Marvin Lewis), the team equally dissolves simple acknowledgement with players that played at Riverfront Stadium, Nippert Stadium and soon to add into the argument, Paul Brown Stadium.
It's good that the Bengals.com website is doing its part honoring great Bengals players throughout the franchise's history. If the team isn't going to do it, then at least the Mothership will handle things in their own way. During the inaugural fan vote, the Bengals.com Hall of Fame inducted Paul Brown (also in the Browns Ring of Honor), Anthony Munoz, Ken Anderson, Isaac Curtis and Boomer Esiason. It's hard to dispute those players because a) they were great and b) fans like us voted for them.
The ten finalists of the Bengals.com Hall of Fame vote will take place later this month.