Cincinnati Bengals fans and former players have been sharing their thoughts on wide receiver A.J. Green since he announced his retirement earlier this week. One player who spent as much time with the Bengals as Green was former pass rusher Carlos Dunlap.
Dunlap was drafted in the 2010 NFL Draft right before Green came in 2011. Both were foundational pieces for that run of five straight playoff appearances, and Dunlap couldn’t help but gush over his former teammate.
“He has over delivered on everything and all the expectations that we thought that he would do as a Bengal, as a teammate, as a friend, as a former rival in high school. He’s been doing what you guys are seeing,” Dunlap told reporters at the Super Bowl media row. “I think it’s a no brainer that he’ll be a Bengal great. And I’m excited for him and his new season. You know, now that he’s done playing football and decided that he wants to hang it up. I’m glad that he was able to, you know, do it on his terms.”
That era of the Bengals may be a sore spot for some fans. There was plenty of disappointment and frustration, but they were a very talented squad for quite a few years and Green and Dunlap both pulled their weight to make that happen. One of Green’s more lasting traits off the field was how rarely you’d hear him talk or speak out. Very much the opposite of what you’d expect from a receiver of his caliber.
“Appreciate you as a family man, the tone you set,” Dunlap said. “He doesn’t say much. I’m probably saying more than he said his whole career. I don’t want to speak for him, but we appreciate the man you are, the teammate you are, the friend you are, the competitor you are, the community leader you are, and enjoy your next season.”
It is as glowing a send off as you’d expect from two players who are probably still quite close off the field given how long they were teammates. It is unfortunate that Dunlap may be remembered more by how he forced his way out of Cincinnati by fans than for all those great seasons he helped the team have. Something like this still is great to hear from him. Maybe someday that bridge with that part of the fan base can be mended.