Bill Hemmer may be best known as the host of "America's Newsroom" on Fox News, but the anchor is also a rabid, lifelong Bengals fan. Naturally, he eagerly anticipates the team's Saturday playoff game against the New York Jets.
While the past decades have seen more than a few miserable franchises in sports, few have endured what the Bengals have gone through. To put it into perspective, Hemmer mentions his 19-year-old nephew and says, "Since he's been alive, this is exactly the second winning season he's ever witnessed." He continued:
In Bengal nation, there is one thing you learn: stay humble. In the 1990s, no team was as bad over a 10-year period in the history of professional organized sports. No team had a lower winning percentage than the Bengals. We have been to the depths of the valley.
Despite the franchise's struggles, Hemmer approaches game-time with guarded hopefulness. "You always start that game day optimistic," he tells the Huffington Post. However, the positive attitude is tempered with a pragmatic sensibility:
You also start that game day with a sense of realism. You try to maintain your level of rationality. You think about all the times when you got your hopes up and you were burned, singed by your loyalty. However, this is why God made tomorrows. The Cincinnati Bengals are a perfect example of human beings having hope.
Hemmer was working as a sports news producer in Cincinnati when the Bengals played the 49ers in Super Bowl XXIII. "We had a staff of six, and five went to the game. I was the one who stayed back to mind the shop and produce the shows." But staying behind ended up being a valuable experience, as he was able to anchor the noon sportscast while the rest of the staff was in Miami for the game. Before long he was working full-time as an anchor across town.
"So I credit the Super Bowl appearance to some career success."
Some were caught off-guard this year when the Bengals, despite winning the competitive AFC North division, did not have a single player honored with a trip to the Pro Bowl. But Hemmer was not surprised. "This team has not gotten respect in 20 years, but in the NFL you need to earn the respect and they are getting close."
While Hemmer is unwilling to predict the outcome of the Bengals' playoff game against the Jets, he did share some observations. "It's going to be cold on Saturday, 20 degrees, maybe the wind chill gets around 10 degrees. That will have an affect on the game." He plans to watch the match-up at home with family and, yes, Jets fans.
Hemmer is used to Jets fans in part because he is surrounded by them at work. "Everybody in this building knows I'm a Bengals fan and most of them are Jets fans. And if they're not Jets fans, they're acting like it just to rub my face in it." But the Fox News anchor takes it in stride. "In Bengal nation, we stay humble. We'll play the game on Saturday. Lets hope for a well-fought, well-played game and I think that's what we'll get."