Kimo von Oelhoffen is a name that will be remembered for a long time in Cincinnati.
It won't be a name that brings memories of happiness and celebration, though. It's more reminiscent of the feeling that names like Steve Bartman, Bill Buckner, Scott Norwood and Jackie Smith bring when fans of their respective teams are reminded of their presences.
Initially, von Oelhoffen actually played for the Bengals from 1994-99. It was a part of his career most people forget about, as it's his days with the Steelers that he is more remembered for. More specifically, one fateful play that happened during the 2005 Wildcard Playoff game vs. his former Bengals team is what most football fans associate von Oelhoffen with.
It was the first pass play of the game, and it saw von Oelhoffen block into Bengals' quarterback Carson Palmer's left knee while trying to pressure him. The injury to Palmer was a torn anterior cruciate ligament and medial collateral ligament, a double-whammy that had some thinking the QB's career might be over.
While it wasn't career-ending, it did end Palmer's post-season on the spot and decimated what looked like a possible Super Bowl run for Cincinnati. As von Oelhoffen recalled in his interview with the Cincinnati Enquirer this week, he knew the 2005 Bengals team was a special one, capable of beating anyone, especially after they "spanked" Kimo's Steelers team earlier that year.
"Earlier in the year, Cincinnati spanked us. It was just a few games before that playoff game. Carson was on a role. He just came off like two 300-400 yard games. It was going to be a dogfight. Both teams were right there. We had a little bit of a better record (against Cincinnati), but they beat us the second game. Carson getting hurt was a factor. That kid should have gotten to play. He earned the right to play. With him in the game, that (playoff game) was anyone's game. I would have liked to see how that game would have played out with Carson. It would have been fun."
Even though Palmer was von Oelhoffen's opponent that day, the injury was a shocking experience for him, and he knew it was bad as soon as it happened.
"Honestly, why I was shocked, and it was tough for me, was because I heard it pop. It sounded like a gunshot, man, because it was right by my ear. I knew right off it was gone, and you don't want that, so that can be overwhelming. (Kimo pauses) It's tough."
It was clear Von Oelhoffen was remorseful for what had happened. He makes it even harder to even suggest there was any malicious intent when his hit injured Palmer.
It was, and still is, a tough pill to swallow that the Bengals' Super Bowl dreams ended on that play, but there's no sense in placing blame on it, at least toward von Oelhoffen.