As part of the celebration of their 50th season, the Cincinnati Bengals have added some new decorations to Paul Brown Stadium: Banners for nearly 30 of the franchise’s all-time greats.
Reporters attending practice Wednesday got a sneak-peak at the banners, which represent 26 players on the team’s All-50th team and the head coaches of each of the franchise’s Super Bowl teams (Sam Wyche and Forrest Gregg).
Dave Lapham, a Bengals offensive lineman from 1974-83 and the longtime color analyst for the team’s radio broadcasts, said the honor was almost impossible to digest.
“It’s almost living a dream to say the least,” he said after posing for pictures in front of his banner. “You think back on all the work you put in to try to make yourself a player and then to have that happen, you’re grateful and appreciative and all that. Just a bunch of emotions. It’s like an emotional cocktail, really, when I look at that thing.”
He is among many looking forward to the season-long celebration being planned at PBS.
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It comes after many years of the franchise enduring criticism for not doing enough to honor its past.
The team unveiled the 50th anniversary during the summer, and team president Mike Brown said at the Bengals’ preseason luncheon the banners would serve as the club’s answer to a ring of honor.
“I think that’s obviously Mike’s decision, but I do know players appreciate anything like this like they’re doing with the 50th anniversary celebration,” said Lapham, who is among a sizable group of team alumni who put down roots in Cincinnati and the surrounding area over the years.
“The players eat it up. They love it. It does give them an opportunity to get together when they’re scattered throughout the country to reminisce about old times and catch up on their families and all that kind of stuff. So there is a big ripple effect.”
He expects to see many of the team’s greats congregating in Cincinnati as it honors various players at home games this season.
“It’s become kind of a weekend reunion for guys from other parts of the country because they know everybody’s going to be under one roof so it’s a good time to all catch up together,” Lapham said.
The 16 players with new banners at Paul Brown Stadium are quarterbacks Ken Anderson and Boomer Esiason, running back Corey Dillon, fullback Pete Johnson, offensive linemen Anthony Munoz, Willie Anderson, Max Montoya, Bob Johnson and Lapham, receivers Chad Johnson, Isaac Curtis and Cris Collinsworth, tight end Bob Trumpy, kicker Jim Breech, defensive linemen Eddie Edwards, Coy Bacon, Tim Krumrie and Mike Reid, linebackers Reggie Williams, Jim LeClair and Bill Bergey, safeties David Fulcher and Tommy Casanova, cornerbacks Ken Riley and Lemar Parrish and punter Pat McInally.