On Thursday, the Bengals invited former players and season ticket members to help kick-off their 50th Season as an organization with a special press event at Paul Brown Stadium. Former Bengals greats Jim Breech, David Fulcher and Ickey Woods among others along with former long-time coach Jim Anderson were in attendance, as well as team owner and president Mike Brown himself.
The team plans to celebrate their 50th anniversary by finally commemorating its greatest players by introducing the Bengals First 50. This list will recognize the top 50 retired players as voted by the fans and media, with 50 percent of the vote coming from fans, and 50 percent coming from the media. The list will be revealed before the season, and you can vote once a day by visiting Bengals.com/vote from now until June 15th. When you vote, you are automatically entered to win a Bengals 50th Anniversary Prize Pack.
Once the list is revealed, the real honoring begins. During halftime of each home game, members of the First 50 will be presented in their own ceremonies, as well as other Bengals Legends. This gives members of this group a chance to reconnect and cherish the feeling of finally being recognized together by the organization they dedicated so many years to.
There was no announcement about a permanent team hall of fame at this time.
Along with the First 50, the team announced it will be featuring a special 50th anniversary logo on the team’s jerseys throughout the season:
Sculptures of the logo will be featured all around Cincinnati as well, including Paul Brown Stadium of course.
The event had a concrete feeling of reflection, as Brown and former players Dave Lapham, Bob Johnson and Bob Trumpy all spoke and revealed their own personal memories. Johnson and Trumpy specifically told of stories about when they got drafted, what it was like playing under a salary: “that was as much as what Peyton Manning made in his first seven minutes in the league.” said Johnson laughingly.
Anderson, who coached the Bengals from 1975 to 2002, spoke on what it meant for head coach Marvin Lewis to remain a part of the team during this honorary year: “He’s brought the team a long ways, and he’s put the team in a position now to take the next step...it has to do with continuity and consistency and when you do that in the end, you’re going to have a winner.”
It was Brown who really seemed to take it all in the most. He told of memories of Sam Wyche’s implementation of the hurry up offense and how teams had to fake injury to counter it, how he thought Trumpy’s signing bonus of $15,000 back then was ludicrous;, and how he felt when his wife brought home a poster of Max Montoya because she thought he was cute. In the end, he told me this when I asked him why is now the time to honor the team’s greatest players:
“It’s been 50 years...and it’s time a time to reflect.”