Hue Jackson had a few thoughts for his players on what a win Sunday would mean to Mike Brown and Marvin Lewis (above) in the Wild Card Game.
If the Bengals end up reaching Nirvana Sunday about 4:30 p.m. in Indianapolis (Cincinnati's Channel 12), there are going to be a few people you could line up to get that first Game Ball from a playoff victory.
There is The Dean, Robert Geathers, the 31-year-old defensive lineman who is the only player who has been on all six of Lewis' playoff teams and has served every role imaginable.
There are the de facto captains on each line, nose tackle Domata Peko and left tackle Andrew Whitworth, the anchors of the most successful run in Bengals history with five post-season berths in the last six years.
There is the quarterback, Andy Dalton, whose career has been dogged by three days in January despite a regular-season winning percentage of .625.
But on Thursday offensive coordinator Hue Jackson had two other guys in mind when he talked to his players about the impact a play-off victory would have on the organization and city.
Bengals president Mike Brown and head coach Marvin Lewis.
"Marvin has worked his butt off for 12 years to turn around this program and to go to the playoffs four straight years is an unbelievable accomplishment," Jackson said. "And Mike has endured it all. He's been there every step of the way. It's his team. I've never known the Cincinnati Bengals without Mike Brown."
Neither have the players, who have noticed he's not your average every day NFL owner. Whitworth has stopped being amazed when he looks over to the sidelines sometimes during practice and sees the 79-year-old Brown sitting in his cart following the practice script play for play.
"He's not a guy who runs it from afar. There's not a lot of owners around with his dedication at his age. It's like his baby. He's here every single day," Whitworth said. "Being the father of four little kids, I see that. Every day he's here. Every practice. He's worried about every little detail. You can appreciate that, a guy who doesn't have to do all that, who could do whatever he wants. But he loves the team and he loves the game. It would mean the world for me to win one for him. For all of us."
Jackson though he should mention it because there is so many have so much invested in it all. He was a head coach for Raiders owner Al Davis, a guy that ran his team much like Brown did. Davis died in the middle of Jackson's one and only season head coaching the Raiders in 2011, when they missed the playoffs by about the last six minutes of the season.
"Everybody is motivated by different things," Jackson said. "Some people are motivated by opportunity. Or money. People. History. I'm a people person. I couldn't get it for Al…I've got a lot of respect for those two guys. I want to do the best job I can so those guys taste the fruit of something better.
"Mike is one of the better owners in this league. I know he stands for what he believes in. People outside don't know the unbelievable things he's done to touch people's lives. You never hear about it because that's the way he wants it. He doesn't toot his own horn."
If you can't toot your own horn during the playoffs, when can you toot it? Brown, the former Dartmouth College signal caller, has a soft spot for quarterbacks. Dalton gets it.
"Obviously, he's the one that signed me to an extension so there's some proof of that," Dalton said. "There are a lot of people in this organization that have worked hard to get us here. It starts from the top and he's the top.
"You see him out here every day at practice no matter the weather. He's out here in the rain with an umbrella. It's been, what, 25 years without a playoff win? It would be great for him."
Whitworth understands why the Bengals don't get credit for their regular-season success. It needs to be validated in the postseason.
"But it's a long road to get back here and a lot of teams haven't been able to do what we've done," Whitworth said. "And we've done it under his leadership.
"And it's a cool little family thing that's getting passed down. Katie and Troy (Blackburn) are out there every day. P.B (Paul Brown) is out there every day. If we feel like it's been a long time, he must feel like it's been an extremely long time."
Jackson is urging his team to make everyone stop waiting.
"They deserve it," he said.