Jeff Suess, history editor for The Enquirer and author of “Cincinnati: An Illustrated History,” recently teamed up with Rick Pender, journalist and author of “Oldest Cincinnati.” Together they have created a must-have book for Cincinnati Bengals fans.
Here’s a look, in their own words.
The Bengals’ run to Super Bowl 56 was a welcome surprise for Cincinnati fans. The whole town was buzzing with excitement that had been lacking since, well, the Bengals’ last Super Bowl in 1989.
It was a memorable season.
Our publisher, Reedy Press, contacted us after the team won the AFC Championship game and asked us to write a book about the Bengals. None of us are known for their sports writings, but as historians we knew we could tell the team’s seven-decade story.
So, as the Bengals headed to Los Angeles for the Super Bowl, we dug through news articles and photo files to compile a history of the franchise.
The result? A new coffee table book, “The Cincinnati Bengals: An Illustrated Timeline,” featuring stories of the best players, greatest games, triumphs and, of course, heartaches, with over 180 historic and contemporary photos .
We have a chapter dedicated to Joe Burrow and the AFC champions, as well as chapters on the early years, both the Super Bowl in the 1980s and the Marvin Lewis era.
The purpose was to commemorate everything Bengals. Bob Johnson to Chad Johnson, Coy Bacon to Evan McPherson, Isaac Curtis to Ickey Woods.
The history of the Bengals is more than statistics and win-loss records. Here are some of the stories we brought to light.
Stories highlighted in ‘The Cincinnati Bengals: An Illustrated Timeline’
- Years before Paul Brown founded the Bengals as an AFL expansion team in 1968, there was another professional Cincinnati Bengals team that played from 1937 to 1941.
- Bill Walsh, the Bengals quarterback coach in the 1970s, helped develop Ken Anderson and pioneer what became known as the West Coast Offense. But he was replaced as head coach in 1976. He then led the San Francisco 49ers to three Super Bowl victories, including two against the Bengals.
- Greg Cook, the Bengals quarterback phenom who Walsh said was “the greatest talent to play the job,” only played one season in 1969, winning rookie of the year despite wearing a cap from the torn rotator cuff that ended his career early.
- The team’s rivalry with the Pittsburgh Steelers has been intense and often ugly, such as when a Steelers defenseman ripped off Ken Anderson’s face mask and nearly turned his head.
- Most of us know the team as fans, so we’ve included the fan experience – the “Who Dey” chant, the HuDey beer, and the “Welcome to the Jungle” explosion at Riverfront Stadium.
We also had fun writing stories about the great games. The first victory. Corey Dillon’s record game. The freezer bowl. The three Super Bowls and many more. Our goal was to put the reader in the seats of the stadium to experience the matches – or for the longtime fans who were there, to relive them.
Using photos to bring fans back to games
Then there are the photos.
They look great puffed up and printed on the page, brimming with power and movement. The Enquirer has generously given us access to the archive of historic photographs to accompany the dramatic action photos from recent seasons.
Our game plan was to create a book as memorable as the Bengals’ recent success.
Here are some of the pages featured in the book.