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Bengals fan drives 24 hours round-trip to watch playoff game at father’s graveside

By Meredith Stutz

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    CINCINNATI, Ohio (WLWT) — Hardcore Cincinnati sports fans support their teams no matter the season and no matter the score.

Loyalty is a tradition passed down from generation to generation just like an old jersey.

That’s what makes the story of the Lynch family so special.

James Lynch raised his family in Southwest Ohio as huge Bengals fans. His son, John, still remembers the communal excitement of celebrating the Bengals playoff win in 1991. Lynch said he watched the game on his parents’ small black-and-white television.

James Lynch died a few months later in April 1991.

As time passed and the Lynch siblings grew up and moved away, they remained massive Bengals fans.

When the playoff curse was finally broken earlier this month, John Lynch and his siblings decided to honor their dad in a unique way. Instead of attending the next playoff game in Nashville, they decided to take a road trip to College Corner, Ohio, to visit their parents’ gravesites.

John Lynch and his brother drove together 12 hours each way from their homes outside of Omaha in Council Bluffs, Iowa, to Ohio. Their sister drove in from Indiana.

Together, they gathered on Saturday at their parents’ shared headstone. They bought a Joe Burrow jersey and AFC North hat and placed both on the headstone. They chose Burrow because their dad had a special spot for Bengals quarterbacks, including Boomer Esiason.

In addition to creating the memorial, they also decided to stream the Bengals playoff game against the Titans on their phone and watch at their parents’ gravesite. Lynch said his siblings shared conversation and created new memories while reliving the old ones.

“It was just like we were sitting at the kitchen table, you know, and dad had been part of it,” John Lynch said. ” Some people might look at it and think that it’s strange but we carried on conversations and just talked as if we were having coffee and sitting around and talking about the successes and the ups and downs and it was a moment that I’ll never forget. It was a moment that I think brought my brother and my sister and I closer together just in the sense that, you know, in the way the only dad could and it was– it was a moment I’ll never forget. And, to an extent, I don’t make it back home that often. I have the Bengals to thank for that.”

Ultimately, Cincinnati defeated Tennessee in a last-second field goal.

Lynch called their time spent together as a family ‘inspirational’ and says regardless of what happens on Sunday against the Kansas City Chiefs, he will remember this season as one of the greatest in his lifetime.

Lynch plans to attend Sunday’s game with his brother and nephews at Arrowhead Stadium. If the Bengals win, he said his siblings plan to return to the cemetery and watch the Super Bowl together as a family.

For some, football is just a game. To the Lynch family and so many others, it’s a vehicle for creating memories and life-changing relationships.

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