New book explores biggest moments

Jeff Suess, history writer for The Enquirer and author of “Cincinnati: An Illustrated History,” recently teamed up with Rick Pender, a journalist and the author of “Oldest Cincinnati.” Together, they created a must-have book for Cincinnati Bengals fans.

Here’s a look at it, in their own words.

The Bengals’ run to Super Bowl 56 was a welcome surprise to Cincinnati fans. The whole city buzzed with excitement that had been missed since, well, the Bengals’ last Super Bowl in 1989.

It was a season to remember.

Our publisher, Reedy Press, reached out after the team won the AFC Championship Game and asked us to write a book on the Bengals. Neither one of us is known for sports writing, 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 into news articles and photo files to compile a history of the franchise.

Page from “The Cincinnati Bengals: An Illustrated Timeline” by Jeff Suess and Rick Pender.

The result? A new coffee-table book, “The Cincinnati Bengals: An Illustrated Timeline,” featuring stories of the top players, biggest games, the triumphs and, of course, the heartaches, with more than 180 historic and contemporary photos.

We have a chapter devoted to Joe Burrow and the AFC champs, as well as chapters on the early years, both Super Bowls in the 1980s and the Marvin Lewis era.

The goal was to commemorate all of the Bengals. Bob Johnson to Chad Johnson, Coy Bacon to Evan McPherson, Isaac Curtis to Ickey Woods.

Paul Brown and the Cincinnati Bengals in 1968.

The Bengals’ history is more than statistics and win-loss records. Here are some of the stories we highlighted.

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 Cincinnati Bengals pro team that played from 1937 to 1941.
  • Bill Walsh, the Bengals’ quarterbacks coach in the 1970s, helped develop Ken Anderson and innovate what became known as the West Coast Offense. But he was skipped over for head coach in 1976. He then led the San Francisco 49ers to three Super Bowl wins, including two against the Bengals.
  • Greg Cook, the Bengals quarterback phenom who Walsh said was “the greatest talent to play the position,” played just one season in 1969, winning Rookie of the Year despite a 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 defender yanked Ken Anderson’s facemask and nearly turned his head around.
  • Most of us know the team as fans, so we included the fan experience – the “Who Dey” chant, HuDey beer and blasting “Welcome to the Jungle” in Riverfront Stadium.
October  22, 2000: Bengals running back Corey Dillon broke the NFL single game rushing record at 278 yards against the Denver Broncos at Paul Brown Stadium.

We also had fun writing narratives of the big games. The first win. Corey Dillon’s record-setting game. The Freezer Bowl. All three Super Bowls and many others. Our aim was to put the reader in the stadium seats to experience the games – or for the longtime fans who were there, to relive them.

Using photos to take fans back to the games

Then, there’s the photos.

They look stunning blown up and printed on the page, bursting with power and movement. The Enquirer generously gave us access to the archives for the historic photographs to go along with dramatic action shots 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.

Page from “The Cincinnati Bengals: An Illustrated Timeline” by Jeff Suess and Rick Pender.
Page from “The Cincinnati Bengals: An Illustrated Timeline” by Jeff Suess and Rick Pender.
Page from “The Cincinnati Bengals: An Illustrated Timeline” by Jeff Suess and Rick Pender.

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