Longtime Bengals season-ticket holder: ‘You couldn’t keep me away’ from Super Bowl

Bengals treated the Millards to an earlier Super Bowl after life-threatening illnesses.

A local couple with season tickets to Cincinnati Bengals games for the past three decades say they jumped on a chance to attend Super Bowl LVI to show their devotion to the team and their appreciation to the Brown family.

Steve and Suzanne Millard of Washington Twp. booked a flight and a hotel room following the Bengals win over the Tennessee Titans on Jan. 23. A week later, immediately after the team beat the Kansas City Chiefs in the AFC Championship game, Steve Millard purchased tickets to the Super Bowl, the Bengals’ first in 33 years.

“I had the website teed up and ready to go, so the minute (rookie kicker Evan) McPherson made that kick to win the game, I pushed the button and bought the tickets,” Millard said.

Fans of the team since “the dark days” of the 1990s and early 2000s, the couple weathered some tough times several year ago. Suzanne was diagnosed with a rare, aggressive form of breast cancer in April 2017. Four months later, Steve suffered three heart attacks in a 21-hour span, and had to be resuscitated following the second one, a massive widow-maker. Because a life-saving operation took four hours, Millard lost a third of his heart and is in line for a heart transplant.

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Somehow, the Bengals heard about the couple’s adversities and called to confirm if they would be attending the team’s Crucial Catch game, which promotes prevention and early detection of cancer.

The Bengals invited the Millards onto the field at halftime as they were honoring the top 50 players. That’s when Bengals Hall of Famer Anthony Munoz presented the couple with tickets to Super Bowl LII in Minneapolis, “in recognition of Suzanne’s battle and in appreciation of the Millard’s support of the team.”

The Bengals also paid for the couple’s travel and lodging.

In doing so, the franchise made the journey both were on “a little bit easier,” Steve Millard said.

“(Bengals owner) Mike Brown has received criticism over the years for lots of things,” Millard said. “Maybe being too loyal, sticking with people too long, whatever the case may be, but I will tell you ... you can’t say a bad thing about the Brown family in front of me because what they did to help our family just make this journey a little bit more tolerable was something I’ll never forget and they didn’t have to do it. It was completely over and above the call of duty.”

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Credit: JIM NOELKER

Credit: JIM NOELKER

That magnanimity might have gone unnoticed by most people, but not Millard.

“I’ll never forget the generosity and the thoughtfulness that that family put into my family and so ... you couldn’t keep me away from this Super Bowl,” he said. “Doesn’t matter how much it costs.”

Millard said that by doing so, in his own “small, little way,” he’s repaying the kindness Brown showed to them for being longtime season ticket-holders rooting on the team in person.

“It’s something that I knew that I would do one time in my life and I’d never regret it and if I didn’t do it, I would regret it the rest of my life,” said Millard.

This will be the fifth Super Bowl for Millard, who said it is “the ultimate sporting event.”

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Getting to witness it with a Bengals team like this year’s, including nimble quarterback Joe Burrow, is “insane,” Millard said.

“The energy and the swagger is over the top,” he said. “It’s like any sports team: If they believe, they can achieve anything. Burrow has convinced them.”


A BENGALS FAN’S FAVORITES

Name: Steve Millard

Resides in: Washington Twp.

Favorite Bengals moment (before this season): “The first time that I brought my son to a Bengals game, which was 1991 and he was 6 years old. It was just fantastic to be able to share my love of football and my love of the Bengals with my son.”

Favorite moment this season: Evan McPherson kicking the walk-off field goal against the Tennessee Titans. “I took my daughter down to that game in Nashville and we were sitting in a crowd full of Titans fans who were absolutely convinced that they were going to kill the Bengals, and the entire stadium was deathly quiet at the end of that field goal.”

Favorite player: Anthony Munoz. “I’ve run into him numerous times over the years and he is one of the most genuinely nice men you will ever meet. Besides the fact that he was a heck of a player, a Hall of Famer, etc., he’s just a nice man and I appreciated that in the world that we live in these days.”

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