TDBH: Tight end trend-setter Trumpy retires to start another

Posted Mar 19, 2018

This Day in Bengals History - March 20, 1978

Even the guest of honor himself, original Bengals tight end Bob Trumpy, admits this morning’s news conference is “not a big secret,” when he announces what everyone knows and retires at age 33 to become a full-time sports broadcaster. What may surprise folks today is if they knew 36 years later that second career leads to the Pro Football Hall of Fame as the recipient of the Pete Rozelle Radio & Television Award for “longtime exceptional contributions to radio and television in professional football.”  But even as he leaves Riverfront Stadium today after 10 seasons in stripes, Trumpy already has made a lasting contribution to the game as the first modern tight end. The Bengals’ cutting edge use of the position under head coaches Paul Brown and Tiger Johnson and offensive mastermind Bill Walsh is reflected in the franchise record book Trumpy controls with most catches (298), receiving yards (4,600), and receiving TDs (35).

He says his proudest memories are his earliest, starting with making that 1968 expansion team as a 12th-round pick. “In 1969 I was proud of averaging 22.6 yards per catch. I think that started the trend toward getting tight ends down field to catch the ball.” Trumpy’s departure leaves only one original Bengal, center Bob Johnson, his long-time road roommate. “This is officially my divorce from Bob Johnson,” says Trumpy, always one of the more hilarious Bengals. “I get the color TV and he gets the air conditioner.”

But Trumpy also bangs out a heart-felt letter to Bengals’ fans fittingly typed in an all-cap script on the letterhead of his new full-time employer, WCKY 1530 Radio, where he’ll have a sports talk show Monday through Friday from 6-7 p.m. “Dear Cincinnati,” he begins, “I leave the game with great memories, memories of my association with Paul Brown, with my teammates, and with you the fans who supported us so enthusiastically. So many of you had a kind word for Number 84 through the years and I’ll always be grateful.”  The market is already aware of Trumpy’s unmistakable baritone from his part-time radio and TV work and he offers a preview of the show. “My guests will be people from all over the country and all over the world. And you can talk with them. Just give us a call.  And – hey – thanks for the past ten years.”

The next three decades turn out to be just as significant as Trumpy becomes a broadcasting titan working four Super Bowls, four Pro Bowls, and six Hall-of-Fame Games before he retires in 2007. He also shows the versatility of a Paul Brown tight end by calling three Ryder Cups and three Olympiads. He’s the first in a line of former Bengals that make it big in the booth. He launches the careers of long-time Bengals Radio Network analyst Dave Lapham and future double-digit Emmy-award winner Cris Collinsworth when they pinch-hit in his sports talk seat and that begins a parade of network blazers that includes Boomer Esiason, Solomon Wilcots, and Sam Wyche. The line is an echo of what his head coach, Tiger Johnson, says as Trumpy leaves Riverfront today.  “It’s nice to have people around you who are on your side and I always felt like Bob Trumpy was on my side.”

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