One of the many things we love when catching up from the Cincinnati Bengals greats from yesteryear is in their honesty about a number of subjects. We love rehashing memories and getting their thoughts on the current state of affairs, of course, but every once in a while they drop a nugget of information that seems to slip past us, yet provide incredible insight.
In a recent interview with one of the Bengals G.O.A.T.s, Ken Anderson, he pinpointed a moment in time wherein he saw where the ship was headed in the right direction under Zac Taylor. And no, it wasn’t this past summer, or even the one before when Joe Burrow arrived.
Anderson believes it was a moment back in the awful two-win season back in 2019. The former NFL MVP made the trip to London on one of those rare occasions wherein the Bengals were playing abroad, and he took notice of something.
“If I can share a story with you, this goes back to 2019—Bengals win two games that year,” Anderson recounted. “About three quarters of the way through the season, they go to London, and I happen to be at that game. So, they practice on Thursday in Cincinnati, get on a plane, fly all night, go to London, go to the hotel, drop my (and their) bags off. ‘Okay—let’s go practice’. It’s rainy, it’s drizzly, it’s cold in London...”
Obviously, as you can see, the picture Anderson paints is a bleak one. It would seem that a team playing for a top draft pick at the time would do little more than show up and half-ass it at this point. Not the case, says Anderson.
“I mean, I’ve been on good teams where you go through something like that and just go through the motions of a practice just to get it over with,” he continued. “It was one of the most spirited, well-executed practices I’ve ever seen. I said: ‘These guys buy into what Zac Taylor is saying.’ He’s got the pulse of this team, he’s created a culture and I think the players contribute to that culture. I said they hold each other accountable...so that locker room is a good locker room, and they have great leadership.”
The little things are what build up to big things and lead to greatness, right? In what was totally lost season by late October in 2019, the locker room hadn’t packed it in. We had heard the “culture” rumblings for the first couple of years in the Taylor era, but with six wins and a tie in the first two seasons, they began to rang hollow.
Suddenly, when things fall into place and the wins start coming, we look back at the minutiae as reference points to a Super Bowl run. Yet, this story from Anderson, however small of an example, shows how Taylor kept this team together amid one of its worst seasons in franchise history.
Two years later he has them on the precipice of their best one.
Our thanks to Mr. Anderson for joining us on the program on this special week. Please go support the great work the Ken Anderson Alliance is doing in the community. You can win some great prizes by donating to their $14,000 in 14 days campaign.
Whether you donate $14, $140, anything above, beyond or in between, you’ll be entered in a drawing for some great, unique prizes. Go check it out and support a great cause from an outstanding former Bengal!
Oh, and 16 Lots Brewing Company has its “Kenny’s Dey Drinking Lager” available. That’s a great choice for drinks (adults only, of course), if you’re hosting a party this Sunday.
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