CINCINNATI — Monday's fan rally showed Cincinnati fans are more than ready for the Bengals' biggest game in more than 30 years.
Head coach Zac Taylor summed it up — it's a special team in a special city with special fans. Around 30,000 of those special fans came to Paul Brown Stadium for one last send-off before the Bengals head to L.A. Tuesday.
In the crowd were die-hard fanatics like Anthony Brooks, better known as 'Tony Da Tiger.' Brooks has been coming to games in full face paint for 10 years — cheering on the Bengals at their worst and now best.
"Did not expect to go to three playoff games and the Super Bowl, but here we are and we're going to all of them," Brooks said. "I'm excited. This is a great thing for the city. I love the fan base. It's awesome for all of us."
The rally was an event for both fans and players, young and old. Cincinnati native Kevin Huber, the Bengals' longest-tenured player, got emotional as he talked about his hope of celebrating the Super Bowl at the stadium next week. Many in the crowd understood his passion.
"I've been a Bengals fan for a long time — this hasn't happened since I was younger than (my daughter)," Jennifer Simsonton said. "My oldest is on his way down here too, so we're making it a family thing."
Fans know how hard it is to shake the past, understanding how close previous teams have gotten.
"We all have the little Cincinnati guy from the '90s saying no, it's going to fall apart, things are going to happen," said Jeremy Conley, the 'Bengals Captain.'
But the focus Monday was on celebrating the historic season that has been, and what could still be.
"The fireworks, the music...we deserved it," Conley said. "It's what we've been waiting for — it's almost the party we're waiting for."
That party will come when the Bengals bring back the Lombardi Trophy.
"This year has been freaking awesome," fan Andrew Nolan said. "I knew from day one we were going to the Super Bowl."