The Cincinnati Bengals have a new way to pay tribute to football legends.
On Thursday, the team announced its "Ring of Honor" that will recognize former players, coaches and individuals who have significantly affected the franchise.
The first two Ring of Honor members are Paul Brown, the Bengals’ first head coach and general manager, and Anthony Muñoz, widely considered to be the sport’s greatest left tackle.
Two additional Ring of Honor members will be selected by season-ticket holders and suite owners from a ballot that will be released in May, a press release says. All four members of the inaugural class will be inducted during a ceremony at a home game during the 2021-2022 season.
An FAQ on the Bengals’ website describes what qualifies a person to be considered for the Ring of Honor:
Pro Football Hall of Fame members are automatically inducted. Players must be retired. Additional qualifications include Pro Bowls, team records, individual achievements and Bengals First 50 votes from fans and media.
“The Bengals Ring of Honor is a way to show our appreciation for individuals who have made a significant impact on our franchise,” Mike Brown, Bengals president, says. “We selected Paul Brown and Anthony Muñoz. They are in the Hall of Fame in Canton and it pleases me to put them out front as our initial inductees. We have a lot (of) great players and coaches to honor and it will be fun to reminisce as we go about this process.”
The Ring of Honor will be displayed on the fast facade inside Paul Brown Stadium as well as on Bengals digital channels, the press release says. The team says that the Ring of Honor will be a ‘recurring tradition,’ though it does not specify if new honorees will be selected annually.
“We are embarking on an exciting new chapter,” Katie Blackburn, executive vice president, says. “This is an important year to bring people back together and engage in meaningful ways that build community. Through the Bengals Ring of Honor, we will be able to celebrate our great history and keep memories alive as we create content that can be shared for generations to come.”
The Cincinnati Bengals’ website now features a video teasing the Ring of Honor and showcasing team greats like quarterback Boomer Esiason, wide receiver Chad Johnson, quarterback Ken Anderson, cornerback Ken Riley, Muñoz and Brown. The team has not said if those Bengals will be part of an upcoming Ring of Honor class or if they will appear on the May ballot.
As CityBeat reported in February, Riley was excluded from the NFL’s “In Memoriam” segment during this year’s Super Bowl, just months after he had passed away.
Learn about the Ring of Honor on bengals.com.