Who says you can’t go home?
For the second time in his two seasons with the Cincinnati Bengals, wide receiver Kwamie Lassiter II was elevated from the practice squad to the active roster.
The first time it happened, on November 26, 2022, Lassiter was called up as star receiver Ja’Marr Chase recovered from a hip injury.
It happened again this past week when Tee Higgins was ruled out because of a broken rib. But, what made this call-up particularly meaningful to the undrafted free agent out of Kansas was the team the Bengals would face today - the Arizona Cardinals.
Lassiter’s father, Kwamie Lassiter, who died suddenly of a heart attack in 2019 at the age of 49, was a safety for eight seasons in Arizona. The senior Lassiter helped lead the Cardinals to a playoff berth in 1998, their first year in Arizona, after recording eight interceptions. His four in the regular-season finale tied an NFL record for most interceptions in a game.
Lassiter recorded 588 total tackles, 24 interceptions, and five fumble recoveries during his time with the Cardinals. He played for the San Diego Chargers in 2003 before completing his NFL career with the St. Louis Rams in 2004.
But it was Glendale, Arizona, and State Farm Stadium that would always have a special place in Lassiter’s heart. And the feeling was mutual.
“Whenever I go back,” Lassiter said Thursday via Bengals.com, “there are still some fans wearing his jersey (No. 42).”
You probably won’t see any Cardinals’ fans wearing the No. 18 jersey of the son, but there are at least a few people who will remember that Lassiter made his playing debut in the same place where his father began his career.
“Kwamie (II) coming home is just another answered prayer,” said Lassiter’s mother, Ericka. “The opportunity to play at home where his father’s career started, in front of his family and friends, is truly nothing but God. Over 20 family and friends will be at the game cheering him on. I pray he scores his first career touchdown at State Farm Stadium. That for sure will have heaven written all over it.”
Lassiter didn’t quite manage a touchdown, but he did record a single reception for two yards late in the game. He was also named a game captain by Taylor prior to kickoff.
Classy move by Bengals HC Zac Taylor. Along with Logan Wilson, Kwamie Lassiter II is captain on the field where his late father became one of the most popular Cardinals ever.— Geoff Hobson (@GeoffHobsonCin) October 8, 2023
“Anytime you can give a player that kind of moment, you do it,” head coach Zac Taylor said after the game. “Kwamie represents everything that we want to be about.”
Not only is Lassiter a hard worker, but he has the skills it takes to be a quality receiver at the NFL level. Beyond the emotional appeal of being back in Arizona, Lassiter deserved his shot.
“Mr. Consistency. Always in the playbook. Always one of the first ones out and one of the last ones off the field,” said wide receiver coach Troy Walters. “Smart guy, good route runner, can play all the positions. He’s a valuable guy. Hard worker with good hands.”
It took two years, but he finally got his chance - back where it all began.
“I grew up a Cardinals fan,” Lassiter said, “but I’m riding with the Bengals.”