It becomes the NFL version of "Give Me Liberty or Give Me Death," and "Ask Not What Your Country Can Do For You."
Look for one of the top 10 NFL Film quotes of all time, and Bengals head coach Sam Wyche's "You Don't Live In Cleveland, You Live in Cincinnati," has stood the test of time. Right there with "They're killing me Whitey, they're killing me," and Hank Stram's "Matriculating the ball down the field."
That will come later.
But now, in the heat of the second half on Dec. 10, 1989, the crowd of 54,744 at Riverfront Stadium is remembering this day for their heavily-favored Bengals (by 10 points) failing to blow out 5-8 Seattle and taking command of the playoff picture in what will become one of the most devastating losses in the Wyche era, 24-17.
With the frustration mounting and Seattle driving, the crowd pelts the Seahawks with snowballs. After conferring with the officials, Wyche races across the field to grab public address announcer Tom Kinder's microphone to belt out the most famous plea since "To be or not to be?"
"Will the next person who sees anybody throw anything on that field, point him out and get him out of here?" Wyche intones. "You don't live in Cleveland, you live in Cincinnati."
The crowd roars, but saves its wrath for the officials when they wave off David Fulcher's goal-line stop on third down in a 17-17 game because of a discussion of a penalty flag. They rerun the play and Seattle quarterback Dave Krieg hits running back Curt Warner for a one-yard touchdown pass with 3:51 left in the game that prevents the Bengals from driving for a tying field goal.
As it is, the Bengals race to the Seattle 6 with just over a minute left. But quarterback Boomer Esiason's fourth-and-one pass to tight end Rodney Holman falls incomplete and the pain is palpable.
Wyche, furious at the officiating all day, closes the locker room to the media in violation of NFL rules. The Bengals fall to 7-7 and instead of having command of their own playoff destiny, they sense they have squandered it. The NFL's most dangerous offense splits the final two games and doesn't make the playoffs. Scribes go back more than three decades before they can find a team that outscored its opponents by as many as 119 points (404-285) and finished .500 or worse.
But it is a Super Bowl quote poking fun at the Browns' storied fan section in the end zone called "The Dawg Pound." The previous week, before the Bengals beat the Browns in Cleveland, Wyche ripped the Dawg Pound a few days before the game. But then he greeted fans milling in the section a couple of hours before kickoff and signed autographs. Then during the offseason Wyche travels back to The Lake and gives Browns quarterback Bernie Kosar the chance to dunk him for charity.