After Bengals’ 2021 success, local authors dug into team’s history for new book

CINCINNATI — When the Cincinnati Bengals tore through the NFL postseason in 2021, interest piqued in the team, which led two local writers to create a new coffee table book.

Released in September 2022, “Cincinnati Bengals: An Illustrated Timeline” sought to slake football fans’ thirst for information about the historic team, starting with years before it was even forgotten.

“Jeff and I are both historians more than we are sports writers,” said Rick Pender, co-author of the book. “But we thought, well, this would be an interesting assignment.”

The book is a chronological timeline of the team punctuated with illustrations and photographs encapsulating key moments in Bengals history — including the team’s name, fashioned after the Cincinnati Bengals from the 1930s.

“So where did that name come from?” Pender said. “So the guy, a guy named Hal Pennington, who coached the team back then, his mother had a stove in her kitchen that had a nameplate on it from a company that made stoves and it was called a Bengal stove. Why that? I don’t know. But it had a picture of a really fierce-looking tiger.”

From the Vault: Bengals win the ‘Freezer Bowl’

Images in the book highlight the decades-long journey of the Cincinnati Bengals, including the 1981 AFC Championship dubbed the “Freezer Bowl,” when the Bengals — fresh off their first playoff win ever — clinched a spot in that season’s Super Bowl by beating the San Diego Chargers 27-7.

“We’ve got some photos of people breathing steam and a guy with his shirt off at the game, that sort of thing,” said Pender.

The book also highlights the lean years that came after that historic season — through 2021, when the team once more dared to fight for a Super Bowl championship spot.

“We have a whole chapter called ‘the lost decade,'” said Pender. “And in that chapter, there were good things that happened. I mean, during that time, Corey Dillon set a number of NFL records. So it’s good to go back and be reminded that while those were dark days without a lot of success, there were some really good moments.”

From the Vault: Bengals win the ‘Freezer Bowl’

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