By Deb Silverman
Loyal is the best word to describe Bengals fan Ivan Silverman. Ivan (my dad) has owned two season tickets for 50 consecutive years! From Nippert, to Riverfront, to Paul Brown Stadium, he has consistently supported his hometown team since its inception, despite ridicule from friends during tough seasons.
Ivan bought his first set of tickets in 1968 because he enjoyed watching football on TV. He didn't want to miss this new opportunity to watch football live in the city he called home.
When he purchased his tickets as a 27-year-old, he could have never guessed just how many people would eventually give him credit for their first opportunity to see an NFL game in person. Over the years, his second ticket often went to his wife, his son, his two daughters and grandchildren, as well as numerous friends. He's even known for randomly giving both of his game tickets away to friends, relatives and co-workers because he wants to share his passion for the team.
Ivan says nothing compares to the atmosphere of being at a live sporting event where most of the people around you are rooting for the same team. He says there is a special excitement when you walk through the gates. Win or lose, you're always going to see something you've never seen before.
Ivan has a lot of great memories from 50 years of Bengals football. Here are the ones that stand out most:
- There was great promise and enthusiasm around the Bengals in 1969 when Greg Cook was drafted as Quarterback from the University of Cincinnati. Everyone had tremendous hopes for the Bengals and the team's future. Ivan remembers being at Nippert Stadium when Cook was injured in a game against Kansas City. No one knew, at the time, that would turn out to be a career ending injury.
- It was snowing so hard by halftime of a game against the Pittsburgh Steelers in November 1976 that the ground crew had to remove snow off the field for officials to see the line markers. Conditions were so bad on the field it was one of the lowest scoring games Ivan has seen in his life. When the game ended with a Pittsburgh victory of 7-3, the snow and ice made travel home almost impossible. Cars were backed up on the highway for miles. Ivan, and the friend he was with, decided to stop at Ivan's brother's apartment in Mount Adams to get out of the traffic jam. The road was so slippery that Ivan stayed behind the wheel while his friend pushed the car up Gilbert Avenue.
- Ivan went to the Freezer Bowl, January 10, 1982, against San Diego with his son Doug (my brother) who was nine-years-old at the time. It was -9 degrees; 59 below with the wind chill. Ivan remembers thinking the Bengals were nuts when the Offensive Line came out with short sleeve shirts on. The bitter cold temperature was predicted. Ivan and Doug dressed for it. Ivan says the adrenalin and excitement from the Bengals taking an early lead made them forget how cold it really was. He can still picture the four fans nearby who were cheering with no shirts on!
- The Freezer Bowl victory led to the Super Bowl in Pontiac, Michigan. Ivan recalls it being so cold and windy the day of the Super Bowl that they were almost blown into the Silverdome.
- Ivan is not shy about writing letters to the Brown family. He wrote one during the 1987 players strike. Ivan cherishes the letter he received back from Paul Brown about the strike because it specifically addressed the question he posed. Ivan admires Paul Brown for the professionalism and authenticity reflected in that letter.
- Some of his favorite Bengals to watch over the years were; Anthony Munoz, Kenny Anderson, Issac Curtis, Corey Dillon, Icky Woods and Carson Palmer. If he had his way, everyone on this list, not just Munoz, would be in the Football Hall of Fame.
Ivan hopes he lives long enough to see the Bengals make it to another Super Bowl. Go Bengals!