A farm boy from Wisconsin, an offensive mastermind and one of the best play-action quarterbacks ever, made the 1988 Cincinnati Bengals AFC Champions, but not world champions. America's Game: The Missing Rings –- 1988 Cincinnati Bengals debuts Thursday, Oct. 9 at 10 p.m. ET in high definition exclusively on NFL Network.
America's Game: The Missing Rings –- 1988 Cincinnati Bengals profiles the team that perfected the "no huddle" offense and played by the motto "finish everything." Their story is told by coach Sam Wyche, quarterback Boomer Esiason, and tackle Tim Krumrie. America's Game: The Missing Rings –- 1988 Cincinnati Bengals is narrated by Golden Globe-winning actor Jeffrey Wright.
The Missing Rings, the latest installment of the Emmy Award-winning America's Game series tells the stories behind the story of extraordinary teams with one fatal flaw, they did not win the Super Bowl. Each episode is a 60-minute documentary (available in high definition) featuring key members of the team telling their behind-the-scenes accounts. With classic NFL Films action combined with news clips and photos, highlights from team radio broadcasts, footage from inside team meeting rooms, sideline audio and other exclusive features, America's Game provides an epic and intimate portrait of extraordinary teams, in one groundbreaking series.
The "Ickey Shuffle":
"I never did it. I think I tried to sneak it once at home where no one was watching to see if I even could do it." –- Esiason
"If you win enough you deserve to do a little bit of that stuff." –- Krumrie
"I can't, to this day, go to a speaking engagement where someone doesn't ask me, 'Would you do the Ickey Shuffle?'" -– Wyche
Earning NFL MVP:
"I was driving through my neighborhood and there must have been 50 houses with little black and orange Boomer signs when I was named MVP. All these people one year later wanted to show support for me, it was probably one of the proudest days of my life as a human being and as a football player." –- Esiason
"No Huddle" Offense:
"Once he got me refined, where he wanted me. We took Bill Walsh's 49ers West Coast, very cerebral system to another level of thinking. It was remarkable." -– Esiason
"Marv Levy's headline was that the 'No Huddle is No Fair.' This was right after the '88 season and the next year they're running it and actually the next year is when they 'invented it.'" -– Wyche
"I was the pain in the (rear) guy. I was the guy going 100 mph, raising hell, making all the guys mad at me. I was scared someone was going to cut me. I was scared that people were going to say he's not as tough as he was supposed to be." –- Krumrie
"Tim was the spirit of the defense. He was the one that everyone looked at and said, 'if he can go that hard, that many snaps, then we can do it.' He was a big part of everything coming together." –- Wyche
"I was very upset that I wasn't a first-round draft pick and I look back and wonder what happened. My personality was part to blame. I wasn't afraid to say what was on my mind. When I played football, I wanted to be who I was as a person, not some cookie-cutter quarterback." -– Esiason
"Joe Montana was one of the most productive quarterbacks in history of the league. Boomer is a field general. He is a commander on the field. He was the ultimate." -– Wyche
Wyche as a coach:
"He would put a lot on my plate. He never let me wear a wristband on my arm, or cheat. He would always grill me mentally, every day." -– Esiason
"Sam was a players' coach, but he let you have it. I'm not going to say that when he got all Vince Lombardi on us that we didn't roll our eyes because we knew that wasn't his personality. His communication skills were terrific." –- Esiason
"It was simple. A handshake and an exchange of two or three words, but it was a memory that lasts lifetime." -– Krumrie on pregame conversations with Wyche.
"I did the hardest thing I've ever had to do as a head coach. I said 'Stanley you know you're not going to play tomorrow and you may never play again.'" –- Wyche
"It was my own fault. I got too excited. I was too much into the game and wanted it too much." –- Krumrie
"I didn't want to get on the stretcher. That was embarrassing to me." -– Krumrie
"He was a significant part of the team and he wanted to be in the same building as we were. I couldn't believe it." -– Esiason on Krumrie waiting in the locker room at halftime.
"Bill (Walsh) and I were really good friends. We weren't very far apart in age...he told me one day, 'if you keep at this you'd make a pretty good coach'...that was his way of saying you aren't a very good player, but you might be a good coach." –- Wyche
"When you are coaching Joe Montana, it's really easy...you fold your arms take three good giant steps back and stay out of his way. That's how you get to be a good coach." -– Wyche
Celebrating their 1988 AFC Championship:
"I was delirious. Realizing what we had just accomplished and where we were heading. As improbable a trip as any NFL team ever could have been on." -– Esiason
"You don't remember the bad games. As years go on, they disappear. You hold on to the good forever." –- Krumrie
"It was the cheesy '80s, what do you expect? We were doing the 'hip hip hooray' chants in the locker room. That's just the Bengals." -– Esiason on celebrating their AFC Championship.
"Your body goes cold. Your emotions are so compacted you don't have any emotions, you're numb." –- Wyche
"I always think back to the great memories our team had and the way we did it was unique in nature. We had a unique coach and great personalities on our team. Where we came from to where we ascended to is the most unpredictable of seasons that any team has ever had in the history of the league." -– Esiason
"So I'm not going to Disney World?" -– Esiason on his first thought upon Joe Montana's winning touchdown pass in Super Bowl XXIII.
"I lived part of the dream, I'm just short the other part. That's why I coach. I do it to finish it." –- Krumrie on never having won the Super Bowl.
"Sam Wyche was awful...I was the highest paid player per minute of playing time in the history of the league, mainly because I never played." –- Wyche on his career as a player.
"I always thought of Sam and me as a bucking bronco with the guy who was trying to tame him." –- Esiason on his relationship with Wyche.
"He would throw the ball so hard that sometimes it would fly on him and he would overthrow receivers. The joke was 'he was the only person who could overthrow Castro.'" -– Wyche on Esiason's ability as a quarterback.
"Not being able to finish off the game led to the word "finish" becoming the keynote to the 1988 season." –- Wyche on the fact that the 1987 team had a chance to win seven games late in the fourth quarter, but lost them all.
NFL Network airs seven days a week, 24 hours a day on a year-round basis and is the only television network fully dedicated to the NFL and the sport of football. For more information, log on to www.nfl.com/nflnetwork. NFL.com is the exclusive Internet home of NFL Network.