CINCINNATI - In an itinerant industry, Bengals running backs coach Jim Anderson was the Rock of Gibraltar. An unprecedented 29 years in the same role with the same team speaks for itself. But Tuesday, after lengthy consults with his wife Marcia, he called it a career. Jim took some time to reflect on a generation in the huddle.
"I was eligible to retire 7 years ago. I had my term of service in. I was as they say in the business, 'Bowl Eligible.' I'd told people for the longest time I'll retire when I'm 58. Well that day came around and it didn't feel right. When time progressed to the next year, that didn't seem right either. People would ask, 'When are you going to retire? You said you would when you were 58.' But it wasn't the right time. Marcia and I thought about it. We talked about it. We talked during the season and subsequently this week rolled around and we talked some more and eventually we said, the time is now. And I can make the adjustment. What Marcia is worried about is me making the adjustment. She knows how many hours I spent on the job and my attention to detail. Now I have to reconfigure that to doing other things."
As for being the longest tenured position coach in the same role with the same team for 29 years?
"It really is a blessing. But when you've been blessed people ask what did you do with the blessing. That was the key. Hopefully you go out and effect someone's life in a positive way. Helping that young guy or that young woman to be a better person. To be a more responsible person. A more productive person in our society."
As for the greatest sadness in his career?
"The greatest sadness I've been witness to was the eve of the Super Bowl when Stanley Wilson had his episode. That was the saddest moment of my career because in a way I felt that maybe if I'd seen something earlier, that maybe I could have curtailed that. Stopped it from happening. And from that point on, I was a little more attentive to little things with people. And how they were going to respond, so that I could help them with other things and issues off the field."
On balance though, Jim said the good far outweighed the unfortunate.
"Just the number of guys. I could go on and on. The whole idea of seeing guys like Stanford Jennings and Eric Ball. I'm around Eric every day. And just seeing these guys grow up and their families, great families. They are just two examples. Seeing guys kids going to college and graduating and being responsible people. That's the whole thing about coaching. You want great athletes but hopefully have great people. Great people who set an example and go out to be responsible in the how they interact in the community. And how they do things other than for themselves. It is a very pleasing thing."
Coach Anderson, it has been more than pleasing to know you all these years. It has been a pleasure. Enjoy your retirement. And realize that you're spending it with the most beautiful woman you've ever laid eyes on.
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