The 1988 Super Bowl was Cincinnati Bengals all-time sack leader Eddie Edwards’ final game.
After two trips to the championship game in his 12 seasons, he didn’t think another 30 years would go by without seeing the Bengals get back.
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Now 64 years old and living in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., Edwards has followed the team closely each season since retiring and said before Thursday’s home opener against Baltimore he believes Cincinnati is putting together the pieces for another Super Bowl in the near future. He has “a good feeling” about this team.
“Maybe this is the year,” said Edwards, who was recognized along with the rest of the 1988 team during halftime Thursday in celebration of the 30th anniversary of that season. “Hopefully I can bring them a little luck. I came back for the 50 year thing last year, and we beat Buffalo. The Ravens, division game, home opener, this could get things rolling.”
For Edwards, the 1988 Super Bowl was the near-perfect ending to a memorable career even though he only played a few snaps. Cincinnati was less than a minute from victory but lost 20-16 to the San Francisco 49ers on a 10-yard touchdown pass from Joe Montana to John Taylor with 34 seconds left.
Edwards, the Bengals’ first-round draft pick in 1977, finished his career with 83.5 career sacks (half of them calculated later by the Bengals since sacks weren’t a stat until 1982).
“I started my career at the University of Miami, so it was like the end to a good story — why not finish there?” Edwards said. “Last Super Bowl, 1988, going home. All your family and friends get a chance to see you play your final game. That was special. It would have been better if we won, but I just can’t believe it’s been 30 years.”
Legendary Bengals offensive tackle Anthony Munoz, who also was on that team, said the 1988 Super Bowl loss still sticks with him, especially when he sees Montana at Hall of Fame events each year.
But for the most part he is just appreciative of the experience. He considers himself fortunate to have been to two Super Bowls, along with Edwards.
“It stings, but you play 13 years, for myself, and go to two (Super Bowls) — a lot of guys play forever and don’t get a chance to sniff the Super Bowl, so that brings some great memories,” Munoz said. “And to be so close twice, that one especially, there’s an appreciation. In the offseason, preseason, regular-season, that’s your goal. We got to the goal but didn’t complete it. For me, who hates to lose as much as I do, every time I watch that highlight, I’m hoping Taylor drops it but he keeps catching it. It was great, though, and to experience it with these guys was amazing.”
Cincinnati came off a 4-11 finish in 1987 and jumped out to a 6-0 start en route to a 12-4 regular season. Munoz said he could tell coming out of the preseason that team was special, something he credits to the 50-some days the Bengals spent toiling under coach Sam Wyche in training camp.
Munoz sees a lot talent in this Bengals team and also is anxious to see that 30-year drought without a Super Bowl appearance come to an end.
“I’m always optimistic,” he said. “I do the preseason games and I watch, and it’s like, ‘This is going to be the year, this is going to be the year.’ You go through all the playoff appearances and the last couple years were a struggle, so hopefully this year we get back on track. We’re loaded with talent. It’s not like we’re sitting here without the talent. We have a lot of talent, so hopefully it’s not far off.
“I’ve probably been to the last 30 consecutive Super Bowl sites — not every game — but I’m tired of black and gold, red, white and blue. I want to see some orange and black in the city I go to. You want it. I get a chance to talk to the guys when I come to camp and I talk to the linemen. I tell them, ‘You have a lot of guys (former Bengals) who are still big fans. We root for you guys. We want you to be successful. We want you to experience what we had. We want it not only for you guys, but also the city. Know that every Sunday you go out, not only do you have the fans in the stadium pulling for you but you have if not every one, most of all the former players that are pulling for you. Get that experience.’ … Hopefully that will happen soon.”
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