Dave Lapham, the Bengals' long-time radio analyst who received his doctorate in down and distance from Paul Brown himself, has left his mark in every nook and cranny of Bengaldom.
"You seem to have a thirst for knowledge of the game," Brown told his rookie guard in 1974.
One of those landmarks stands as the right guard for the Bengals greatest team ever, their first Super Bowl team. And the only way to begin celebrating the 40th anniversary of 1981's highly-ranked juggernaut of the NFL's No. 2 offense and No. 12 defense is to have Lapham kick it all off in the first Old School Scribe Podcast of the year.
"Anything with old in it fits me fine," says Lapham, who is 68 but always sounds as bubbly as the Wakefield High School lineman that helped knock off Melrose ("Smellrose") in the annual Turkey Day Classic on the North Shore of his native Massachusetts.
Here are some other things maybe you didn't know about David Allan Lapham that he reveals in the podcast.
Images from the 1981 AFC Championship between the Cincinnati Bengals and San Diego Chargers, a game affectionately known as the "Freezer Bowl."The Freezer Bowl is recalled as the coldest game in NFL history.
- As a Wakefield senior he was accepted at every Ivy League college, but stunned his mother when he opted elsewhere. (You can find that discussion starting about 12 minutes in.)
- He played for a College Football Hall of Fame head coach at Syracuse before playing in Cincinnati for a Pro Football Hall of Fame head coach in Brown. Lapham struck up such a solid relationship with him that he served as a pallbearer at Brown's August, 1991 funeral, calling it at about the eight-minute mark "as high of an honor as I could imagine."
- When the head coach of that '81 team, Forrest Gregg, left for Green Bay after the 1983 season, he talked to Lapham about coming along as a coach. Lapham seriously considered going into coaching, but with two small children he didn't want to move them around the country. At about 32 minutes in he talks about knowing he made the right decision when he sees his kids staying in Cincinnati to raise their families.
And you already know that Lapham believes quarterback Joe Burrow is going to have a great career (at the 24-minute mark he says there are two things that stood out about his rookie season) and that head coach Zac Taylor made a game changer of a move when he hired Frank Pollack as offensive line coach/run game coordinator.
"The players who were here when he was here the first time (2018) are unbelievably excited about his hire," says Lapham in the 26th minute. "To me that speaks volumes."
There's a lot more in here.
How the 1981 team's mistakes cost them Super Bowl XVI and how they annually visit him. (41:00). Bengals assistant general manager Mike Brown jumpstarting his broadcasting career. (35:00). How he adjusted to broadcasting road games from home in this pandemic season. (19:30).
Down through the years we've heard Lapham break down generations and generations of players. At the six-minute mark, here's how he breaks down himself.
Yet Lap's Look-Inward tells you why he's such a great broadcaster. He had to know his football because Paul Brown not only wanted Lapham to know his playbook, but everybody else's. Brown gave his players tests, but he gave Lapham two grades instead of one.
"He would give this test and you would have to draw the assignments on the formations," Lapham says, "and he said, 'I want you to draw everybody's. I'm going to give a grade in the upper left hand corner on your assignments and a grade in the right hand corner on everybody else's.'
"He opened up my eyes a lot to understanding the game of football," Lapham says. "It all goes back to the early influence of Paul Brown."