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The 2009 Sam Wyche Award Winner

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The Bengal “Gabbies” are handed out at the conclusion of the season in recognition of the most impactful players and stories of the Bengals’ season.  Our last Gabbie to hand out is the Sam Wyche Award, recognizing the most impactful news story of the 2009 season.

The Runners-up: 

  • Bengals Appear on HBO’s “Hard Knocks”:  As the team prepared to head to Georgetown, KY for training camp, the team announced that they would appear on the award-winning HBO/NFL Films documentary series, Hard Knocks.  Steve Sabol, President of NFL Films, presided over a press conference at Paul Brown Stadium, thanking the team for their participation.  It was hugely successful.  The Bengals 2009 Hard Knocks proved to be the most watched version of the series, with the team getting almost universally positive feedback for their openness and the powerful story lines covered.  The Bengals followed that up by being the first team featured on Hard Knocks to make the playoffs.
  • Bengals Win AFC North Division Title:  Certainly winning a division championship and a berth in the playoffs is big news in any NFL city, but it’s absolutely huge in Cincinnati; especially after the team’s 4-11-1 performance in 2008.  Marvin Lewis guided his charges to his second division title in 5 years, something unheard of in Cincinnati. Prior to Lewis joining the Bengals in 2003, the team’s last division title came in 1990.  Perhaps most impressive was the team’s record within the division, ending the year with an unblemished 6-0 mark in divisional games.
  • The Untimely Death of Vikki Zimmer:  The Bengals organization was rocked early in the year when defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer came home to find his wife of 27 years dead.  She died on Thursday, October 8th, just 3 days prior to a road game in Baltimore.  The entire organization mourned her passing, and spent much of the year playing for the kind-hearted woman who had baked cookies for the team, and the man who loved her.

The most impactful story of 2009 Gabbie goes to:  

WR Chris Henry’s Death

Only two months after Vikki Zimmer’s passing, the team was struck by tragedy again when Chris Henry died suddenly from an accident on December 17th.  Henry, whose legal transgressions were storylines for years, had recently become engaged to be married and was turning his life around by all accounts.

His injury clearly affected the team’s passing attack, and it certainly rocked the psyche of a team on the precipice of the post-season.  Chad Ochocinco took the passing especially hard, dedicating his play and a few tears to the man affectionately known as “Slim.”

Of all the news stories generated this season (and there were many), the passing of Chris Henry had the most impact on the team, the organization, and the fan base.  It affected the team’s on-field performance and each player and coach on an individual and personal basis in a way no other event could.

Therefore, we award the 2009 Bengals Gabbie for most impactful news story to Chris Henry.  One final word on the season in review, and one final award to a remarkable player and a life snuffed out far too soon.

 Agree?  Disagree?  Let us know by posting a comment!

About Sam Wyche: As a Bengals fan and observer, no name brings the word ‘controversy’ to mind more than former QB and Head Coach Sam Wyche.  Wyche never shied away from making news during his time in the Queen City.  From his unconventional offensive plays, to his barring females from the locker room, to his “You don’t live in Cleveland!” pronouncements, to his rivalry with Jerry Glanville, Sam Wyche became a reporter’s dream and an absolute legend to rabid  fans.  Even his departure from Cincinnati was controversial as he and General Manager Mike Brown couldn’t agree on whether he was fired or he quit. Nothing was “business as usual” when Wyche was in Cincinnati, and that is why the Bengals Gabbie for most impactful news story is named in honor of our dear friend, Crazy Sam.

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