Cincinnati Bengals Hall of Famer Anthony Munoz, right, was honored along with Ken Anderson and the 1982 Freezer Bowl team before the NFL playoff game on Sunday, Jan. 5, 2013, at Paul Brown Stadium. Kareem Elgazzar | WCPO
Hide Caption

DENNIS JANSON: Bengals veterans share collective sigh of frustration

a a a a
Share this story

Unlike some of his more robust teammates at Sunday’s ‘Freezer Bowl’ reunion, James Brooks appears smaller than in his playing days. Ever the epitome of sartorial splendor, J.B. wasn’t the only one who appeared too diminutive to have been a force on the field. Archie and Ray Griffin for instance and Robert Jackson are not large men in the context of today’s NFL players, but they, and James always played with a ferocity that belied their size. Which made Brooks’ observation most telling in the aftermath of the Bengals season ending loss to the Chargers.
 
Brooks was among the survivors of the 1982 AFC Championship game that propelled Cincinnati to its first Super Bowl appearance, though he did so in a San Diego uniform. And was as usual, one of the least voluble among those assembled in a luxury suite.  
 
“This team talked all year about having a lot of heart. I didn’t see much of that today”, he observed ruefully. With a final “I just don’t know” shrug of the shoulders”, he trudged off to another off season of what if.
 
What had begun as an uplifting revalidation of their good old days, morphed into an All Pro roster of long faces. But not before one collective on field grin in recognition of their achievement 32 years ago. The aforementioned four were joined by Anthony Munoz, Ken Anderson, Cris Collinsworth, Glen Bujnoch, Dave Lapham, Pete Johnson, David Verser, M.L. Harris and Jim Breech.
 
Representing the defense, Mike St. Clair, Tom Dinkel, Lou Breeden, John Simmons and Rick Razzano, all who still reside in the Cincinnati area. And all eager to recount their version of the game that forged their legend.
 
Mark Twain said it: “The older I get, the farther I could swim as a boy”. But there was nothing contrived about what these guys accomplished, embodying a Forrest Gregg infused intensity, sorely lacking from their stripe helmeted descendants when it mattered most.
 
Unlike January 10th of 1982, their collective mood withered with the weather over the last 30 minutes of the playoff rematch.   
 
Kenny Anderson, fighting the onset of a cold observed “how many moving parts have to function perfectly at the precise moment” for a team to get to the playoffs. And how that many more have to mesh to move on. As the tide turned irrevocably, and they faced a 10 hour drive to their home in Hilton Head; he and his wife peeled off, somewhat downcast but clearly buoyed by the experience of seeing guys he’d shared so much with so long ago.
 
An exercise in will that is the biggest reason the Boys of the Winter of 1981 will always occupy a particularly warm spot in the memories of thousands of Bengals fans everywhere.

Copyright 2014 Scripps Media, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Print this article

Comments

Hmm... It looks like you’re not a WCPO Insider. or Subscribe now to contribute!

More Bengals News
Chad Johnson hopes to make comeback in Canada
Chad Johnson hopes to make comeback in Canada

Former Bengals star Chad Johnson will make his return to the gridiron with the Montreal Alouettes of the Canadian Football League.

Bengals, Ham. Co. make deal in effort to lure GE
Bengals, Ham. Co. make deal in effort to lure GE

Bengals officials and Hamilton County administrators have come together on an agreement that paves the way for General Electric Co. and as…

Bengals sign 2013 3rd-rounder to bolster D-line
Bengals sign 2013 3rd-rounder to bolster D-line

Marvin Lewis hopes a change of scenery is all Sam Montgomery needs to maximize the potential that made him a third-round draft pick in 2013.

Judge finds Artrell Hawkins not guilty
Judge finds Artrell Hawkins not guilty

A Hamilton County Municipal Court judge has found former Bengals defensive back and NFL commentator  Artrell Hawkins  not guilty…

Marvin Lewis adds son to Bengals coaching staff
Marvin Lewis adds son to Bengals coaching staff

Marcus Lewis is the team's defensive assistant and quality control coach.

Bengals sign former Texans S Danieal Manning
Bengals sign former Texans S Danieal Manning

The Bengals signed former Houston Texans safety Danieal Manning, a ninth-year NFL player for 2014, the club announced Thursday.

Bengals fullback Charles arrested in Kentucky
Bengals fullback Charles arrested in Kentucky

Police in central Kentucky have charged Cincinnati Bengals fullback Orson Charles with wanton endangerment after a road rage incident Monday.

Bengals extend Peko's contract by 2 years
Bengals extend Peko's contract by 2 years

During a spring of change, the Bengals decided to lock in one of its defensive stalwarts for another two years.

NFL may expand playoffs, curtail taunting
NFL may expand playoffs, curtail taunting

The NFL discussed expanding the playoffs, expressed a determination to curtail taunting and set up an experiment to lengthen extra-point…

Bengals sign Jason Campbell to push Andy Dalton
Bengals sign Jason Campbell to push Andy Dalton

The organization announced Thursday that they had signed a one-year deal with QB Jason Campbell, a former first-round draft pick out of…