Green, the 35-year-old Bengals legend, retired in February and will be back at Paycor Stadium on Sunday for Cincinnati’s home opener against Baltimore, his first time returning for a game since he left in 2021 to finish his career with two seasons in Arizona. Green will be the featured game day ruler of sorts, sitting on a Bengals jungle-style thrown and leading the fans in the signature “Who Dey” chant right before kickoff.
“It’s a dream come true,” A.J. Green told Bengals.com. “I wanted to play my whole career in Cincinnati. It didn’t work out that way. But I was here for ten years. It’s home to me. To come back and retire as a Bengal and for them to embrace me like that, it’s an honor.”
Green registered nine touchdowns in 13 career games against the Ravens, and his single-game high for receiving yards came against the Ravens in a 2015 game in Baltimore when he caught 10 passes for 227 yards and two touchdowns, including the game-winner with 2:10 left in a 27-24 victory.
The year before that, in the 2014 opener in Baltimore, Green caught a 77-yard touchdown pass from Andy Dalton with 4:58 left for another come-from-behind win.
Boyd said one of his favorite memories of Green was a Week 2 win over the Ravens at home in 2018 when Green caught three touchdown passes to give the Bengals a 21-0 lead early in the second quarter en route to a 34-24 victory. Boyd had 91 yards and a touchdown that game as well and is hoping the team can enjoy similar success Sunday as the Bengals seek to bounce back from an opening loss at Cleveland.
“He always knew how to win in any coverage, any leverage,” Boyd said of Green. “He was so strong and powerful that he could just utilize his body to get into areas where the defense can’t play on.”
Before injuries cost him to miss almost two seasons at the back end of his career in Cincinnati, Green became the first wide receiver to be named to the Pro Bowl in his first seven seasons, and in the process, he helped the Bengals to five straight postseasons and two AFC North titles.
Green was only in Cincinnati for one season with Joe Burrow, but as he moved on, the stage was already set for the Super Bowl run the following year with the likes of Tee Higgins and Ja’Marr Chase helping run the show.
“I loved AJ,” Burrow said. “I was lucky to be with him for a year. I was excited about that coming in, playing with a player of his pedigree. ... I haven’t seen him in a while, but I’m looking forward to it because he did so much here for this organization and for this city. I’m excited for the fans and for him to come back and hopefully they give him a good response.”
Boyd said he looks forward to seeing Green, who he spent the first five years of his career learning from. Green taught him how to handle “business as a professional, as a man,” even though he wasn’t “too vocal” about anything.
Green showed it through consistent play and his experience showed in everything he did on the field, and Boyd learned just by watching him.
“We’re always going to be brothers,” Boyd said.
Cincinnati will be hoping to put on a show reminiscent of Green’s monster performances against Baltimore on Sunday – or some of the Bengals more recent successes against the Ravens.
There’s also Sam Hubbard’s 98-yard fumble return for a touchdown that lifted the Bengals to a 24-17 win in the wildcard playoff game last season. Boyd can look back on his own “go-to favorite memory” when he caught a game-winning touchdown from Dalton in the 2017 finale to keep the Ravens out of the playoffs.
“That was probably the catch of my career, but just going forward, I’ve been having a lot of good games going against the Ravens, but they have a great defense,” Boyd said. “Everything has to be earned. Nothing is going to be given so I’ve just got to go out prepared to have a huge game every game.”
Ravens at Bengals, 1 p.m., CBS, 1290, 95.7