CINCINNATI — The last time the Bengals and San Diego Chargers met in the playoffs was the coldest day the NFL ever played a football game. Thirty-two years later the teams played again. Mother Nature was more cooperative this time and for the first time since that AFC title game the Bengals honored players from that team.
There were 17 players from that Bengals team plus running back James Brooks, who starred for the Bengals later in the decade, was a rookie for the Chargers that season.
The Bengals beat the Chargers 27-7 on Jan. 10, 1982, at Riverfront Stadium in a game dubbed the Freezer Bowl because of conditions that included a temperature of minus-9 degrees and wind chill of minus-59 degrees. They went on to play in their first Super Bowl, falling 26-21 to San Francisco in Super Bowl XVI.
"The thing that I appreciate more than anything is that you’re never going to find a group of classier guys," said quarterback Ken Anderson. "Not only as teammates, but as human beings."
Anderson was joined by kicker Jim Breech, cornerback Louis Breeden, offensive lineman Glenn Bujnoch, wide receiver Cris Collinsworth, linebacker Tom Dinkel, running back Archie Griffin, defensive back Ray Griffin, tight end M.L. Harris, defensive back Robert Jackson, fullback Pete Johnson, Hall of Fame left tackle Anthony Munoz, linebacker Rick Razzano, defensive end Mike St. Clair, defensive back John Simmons and wide receiver David Verser.
All of the players who were able to attend the pre-game ceremony still live in Ohio and Northern Kentucky.
"We see a lot of the guys throughout the state of Ohio, at golf outings and fundraisers," said Dinkel, who is an account executive for Fox Sports Ohio. "There are various alumni groups that are active so we see a lot of the guys, especially here in Cincinnati."
St. Clair is a native of Cleveland who played for the Browns before joining the Bengals. He was wearing a scarf that had his nickname "Saint" and his jersey number 72 stitched into it. He said his mother made it for him during his playing days.
"It’s a privilege and an honor to be represented and to see all of these guys," said St. Clair. "It was special that day (Freezer Bowl). We had a chance to get to the Super Bowl. I would’ve played clothless for a shot to get there."