Updated: 5-13-10, 8 a.m.
Dan Hoard, the Bengals’ newest voice, has made all the sounds.
He’s called the games of three major-league teams and a slew in the minors.
He’s called major college bowls, worked something once called the Eastern Independents, and sat in between Anthony Muñoz and Cris Collinsworth to work a high school card.
He’s gone hoarse riding from the Big East to Conference USA.
As a TV reporter he’s covered the World Series, the Super Bowl and the Ryder Cup.
But until Wednesday’s announcement that he’s been named the play-by-play announcer for the Bengals preseason, Hoard had never called an NFL game.
Unless you count those endless hours at 12 years old in his Lakewood, N.Y., home in front of a silent TV and a whirring tape recorder.
“Yes, the first time since then,” said Hoard with a laugh Wednesday from McCoy Stadium in Pawtucket, R.I. before calling the Triple A Red Sox game against the Gwinnett Braves. “No one knew it, but at 12 years old I was the voice of the Buffalo Bills, as well as the Buffalo Sabres, and the New York Mets.”
Hoard, 46, is no stranger to a town where he is working in his third decade. He arrived in Cincinnati in the ‘90s as a reporter and later sports director for Fox 19 in Cincinnati, and is heading into his 11th season as the radio voice of University of Cincinnati football and basketball. After doing various stints with the Reds, Mets and Blue Jays, he’s the radio voice of the PawSox.
“Dan is a highly-regarded announcer and we are very excited to have him join our telecasts,” said Vince Cicero, the Bengals director of corporate sales and marketing, in a news release. “He has great respect and recognition in our area as a knowledgeable broadcaster with a comfortable, no-nonsense style.”
The call to replace Paul Keels, tied up with the Reds at his Fox Sports Ohio assignment, has Hoard charged up about the three games on Channel 12 he’ll team with Muñoz.
“I’m grateful to Mike Brown, Vince Cicero, and UC and the Pawtucket Red Sox for allowing me this great opportunity to work an NFL game in a great market,” Hoard said. “We live in an NFL universe. I know the preseason ratings draw great numbers and I’m not sure, but I think with all the events I’ve covered, this will be the biggest (TV) audience.”
But it won’t be the first time he’s worked with Muñoz, the Bengals Hall of Fame left tackle that is the preseason analyst for the 13th season. They worked at Paul Brown Stadium for a schoolboy event and Hoard knows how easy it is to team with Muñoz.
“Are you kidding me? You just set him up,” Hoard said. “And you let him go with his intelligent, interesting commentary. He’s as good as anybody out there.”
A graduate of Syracuse, Hoard grew up about 70 miles from Buffalo in Lakewood, N.Y. and attended his first NFL game in 1973 in the first year of the Bills’ new stadium. He gets to work there when the Bengals play the Bills Aug. 28. The other two games on Channel 12 are the PBS opener Aug. 15 against Denver and the preseason finale in Indianapolis Sept. 2.
Because of conflicts, Hoard is slated to miss the Sept. 4 UC opener in Fresno and three PawSox games.
“One of the biggest things I miss about not being a reporter is being around an NFL team,” Hoard said. “I really enjoyed the couple of hours before the game and being around the team during the week and getting a chance to travel with them.”
KELLY DEAL LOOMS: All signs continue to point to the Bengals reaching a deal with tight end
Kelly, 33, has said his surgically-repaired Achilles is stronger than the other one after rehabbing all last year following his training camp injury. Kelly hasn't racked up big receiving numbers during his Cincinnati career (115 catches for 928 yards), but he's an extremely tough and talented blocker and is highly-regarded in a locker room where he has been the Bengals spiritual leader. As Gresham blossoms into the starter and works to improve as a blocker, "The Reverand" figures to remain a key part of the running game and protection schemes.
The Bengals return to the field Thursday after Wednesday's regular lifting regimen.
MAUALUGA REACHES OUT TO CUSHING: Bengals linebacker
"Based on our friendship I would think he knows I've got his back and he doesn't even have to say anything," Maualuga says. "Everyone is going to have input and say what they have to say and put us in that little category: Guys from 'SC. This and that. He is one of the hardest working guys in the weight room and on the field. If he's not the hardest working guy he's one of the hardest working."
Maualuga says he was surprised to hear media reports that Cushing had tested positive last September for a fertility drug banned by the NFL. But he also noted the reports that said Cushing tested negative several times after that one positive result and if he had a vote he would vote him NFL Rookie of the Year.
"He tested multiple times and came up clean. I don't think it helped him win Rookie of the Year," Maualuga said. "Based on his performance and based on his ability to play, and it showed at 'SC, he's a great athlete.
"Should they take it away from him?" asked Maualuga, repeating the question about the Rookie of the Year award. "I don't think so. He won it fair and square based on his performance. I'm pretty sure if they re-vote he would still win it."
Maualuga is about five weeks removed from a monthlong stint at a rehab center in the wake of a January DUI arrest. His texts have come from the heart and experience. He made sure he sent, "This, too, shall pass."
"That's a big phrase," said Maualuga of his own troubled times. "Let go and do what you can control and everything else, leave it up to (God)."
Maualuga was supposed to be a first-rounder last year like Cushing (15th to the Texans) and the other USC backer, Clay Matthews (26th to Green Bay), but the Bengals took him early in the second at No. 38. But Maualuga and Cushing have remained close enough that they will catch up this weekend at The Preakness, where they are appearing with UnderArmour.
"I won't talk about it," Maualuga said. "I've been joking with him that we've got to take his big signing bonus and spread it around on some bets."
NO JUMP: Bengals secondary coach Kevin Coyle jumped at the chance, but in the end he felt like he did when one of his baseball games back on Staten Island got rained out.
“We were ready to go, but they just had to call it off,” Coyle said Wednesday after driving back from the Warren County Airport. “Disappointing. A rainout. But a day like that just makes you so proud of our military.”
Head Coach Marvin Lewis, along with Coyle, linebackers coach Jeff FitzGerald, special teams coach Darrin Simmons, and director of player development Eric Ball were supposed to participate in tandem jumps with the U.S. Army Golden Knights. But the Army's official parachute demonstration team deemed the turbulent weather too risky to jump and called it off after a two-hour training session.
Now we know all those guys weigh less than 250 pounds because that was the weight limit. Coyle says there is no word if and when there will be a makeup game.
“I’ve always wanted to jump out of a plane. It’s on my list of things to do,” Coyle said. “Anytime I’ve seen it on TV, I’ve always said I’d like to do it.”
Lewis loves dealing with the military because of their devotion to teamwork and that was clearly on display Wednesday even without going up in the air. Coyle was impressed with how they kept preparing, demonstrating and executing even though the plan was on hold.
They also had plenty of time to hear some priceless stories. These are the same guys that jump with former president George H. W. Bush on his big birthdays and after being at the Kennebunkport compound they have come back raving about what a regular guy he is.
“Those guys in the military are special,” Coyle said. “All their sacrifice and they’re so good at what they do.”
The Knights should see some action this weekend, though. They plan to jump with Cincinnati-area educators and community leaders, as well as participate in the Civil Rights Game Weekend at Great American Ballpark Friday and Saturday.