Jim Lippincott got the nickname "Football Guy" from the Bengals public relations staff quite easily. Whether it was the middle day of a rookie minicamp or Sunday's playoff playoff game with the Ravens, Lippincott always shows up with a gleam in his eye and a quick in his step.
"It's always great watching players on the field," Lippincott said Tuesday amid the announcement he'll retire after the April 2012 draft, his 21st with the club. "Draft day is the ultimate when you see how the players come off the board after 11 months of research. And then you get them in here in a few days and see how they stack up with our players."
Lippincott, 62, the Bengals director of football operations who also serves as a Midwest scout while overseeing the nuts and bolts of the personnel department, plans to return to Cincinnati's Moeller High School as defensive coordinator and a reunion with his dear friend and coaching colleague Steve Klonne. He'll begin coaching while also continuing to work with the Bengals through the April draft.
"Jim has been a valued member of our front office for some 20 years, working as both a scout and as an administrator," Bengals president Mike Brown said in a statement. "His work at Moeller is where his heart takes him now, but I thank him for all he has done here over the years and wish him only the very best. Jim will still be very much in the Bengals picture as we head toward this year's draft."
This team that plays Sunday for a postseason berth is one of those that Lippincott has seen started over in the draft.
"When I first came here we were still playing with the 1988 team," Lippincott said. "Then that began to change. This team here is a very satisfying team. The young players have performed well and it has a lot of speed. Especially on defense. They're a team with a lot of fight. They're so resilient. It's a team that knows it can win."
Lippincott, a native of Lima, Ohio, holds degrees from Xavier University and the University of Dayton. He arrived at Moeller in 1981 as defensive coordinator and added the role of athletic director in 1988. He worked as both an administrator and a coach until he left in 1992 to join the Bengals.
He returns to the job he first had in the 1980s when Moeller was a national powerhouse and Klonne was the head coach. Now Klonne is coaching the offensive line under head coach John Rodenberg.
"I wanted to coach high school again and I wanted to do it with Steve. It didn't matter where," he said. "To me, high school is the most rewarding place to coach. And the fact that it is Moeller means a lot to me because I still feel like I have a close association with the school. It came down to I didn't want to get to be 70 or 75 and feel like I had missed the chance to do it."
Lippincott has a hard time cataloging the games in his mind. But not the relationships. Particularly with Brown.
"The people that are here and the people that were here mean so much to me because that's what means the most," Lippincott said. "To me, Mike is the living example of what a man should be. He's honest, sincere, loyal, intelligent, gentlemanly. He made that part of the job easy. With all the friendships I've made here, I've been blessed."
Lippincott won't attend next month's Senior Bowl or February's scouting combine, but he'll be in draft meetings and consulting with coaches and scouts.