HUNTINGTON, WV (WOWK )—It’s been 31 years since the Cincinnati Bengals won an NFL playoff game but with two wins already down and only one more game before a possible appearance in the Super Bowl, local Bengals fans are celebrating, showing off their fan gear and happy to tell the world they are a part of “Who Dey Nation.”
Zander Wagner has been a Bengals fan since 2004 when he went to watch his first Bengals game in Cincinnati against the Steelers. The 23-year-old from Milton, West Virginia has been hooked ever since.
Wagner, who owns two restaurant/bar establishments in the area, has built himself quite a stash of Bengals gear and memorabilia.
” I have around 100 items in my collection. It’s closer to 200 if I include wearable gear such as jerseys, hats, etc. My most unique items are a couple of limited edition, signed, authentic and on-field Joe Burrow helmets. There’s only 9 of them made and I have 2 of them,” says Wagner. “A very close second is a signed Anthony Muñoz poster that I actually got signed by him in person before a game against the New England Patriots a few years ago.”
Just up the Ohio River in the Gallipolis area, Eric Whitt has been watching Bengals games since he was about 4 years old in 1983. He’s attended his first game in 1987 and has been wearing orange and black ever since.
“I have mainly shirts, hats, coats and sweat shirts…my tiger head, some collectors cups and pins from the 80s Super Bowl team,” Whitt says of his collection. “My all-time favorite Bengal would probably be Boomer Esiason. Anthony Munoz and Ickey Woods are close by! Love the Ickey Shuffle!,” he adds.
Whitt, who works for the Gallia County Board of Elections, watches as many games as he can at home with his wife Abby and his son Hayden who is also a member of the Bengals fan club.
The emotional ties for these fans run deep with their favorite team and with the sudden burst of success, winning the division, making the playoffs and now being in the AFC title game, it’s been a little hard for these fans to contain themselves.
“If they make the Super Bowl I’ll probably cry again like I did in first two playoff wins,” says Whitt.
“If the Bengals win the Super Bowl, I will most definitely be celebrating for a while. I will make the trip to Cincinnati for the Super Bowl parade…I would not miss that for anything,” Wagner says.
This Sunday, Whitt, Wagner and thousands of Bengals fans will be tuned in, watching the game on WOWK-TV, with coverage starting at 3 p.m. If the Bengals win, it’s just another chance for super fans to mark the occasion with more team goodies. Odds are, they’ll think it’s worth the cost.