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.
Bengals will battle Steelers down the stretch twice
Are you ready for some football? The 2014 Bengals full schedule is now here!
Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton used to shy away from the comparisons. That's changed with his negotiations over a contract extension.
The Bengals' 2014 preseason schedule includes home games against the Jets and Colts and road games with the Chiefs and Cardinals.
The Bengals invited UC quarterback Brendon Kay and 23 other draft-eligible players to their annual local players’ workout Wednesday.
The Bengals exercised a 2015 contract option for receiver A.J. Green on Monday, letting them turn their focus to an extension for quarterback…
Almost recovered from his broken jaw, Kevin Huber says he's not sure how he'll react once he gets back on the field.
Former Bengals star Chad Johnson will make his return to the gridiron with the Montreal Alouettes of the Canadian Football League.
Bengals officials and Hamilton County administrators have come together on an agreement that paves the way for General Electric Co. and as…
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.