Longtime Bengal Huber on a Super Bowl win: ‘It would mean everything for this city’

FILE - Cincinnati Bengals punter Kevin Huber (10) punts in the first half of an NFL football game against the Cleveland Browns, Sunday, Jan. 9, 2022, in Cleveland. Huber has been a Bengals fan all his life. He grew up in Cincinnati, went to college there and rooted for the city to celebrate a championship. The 36-year-old Bengals punter is the team’s longest-tenured player and he’s a victory away from helping deliver a Super Bowl title to his city - and fulfilling a dream that started as a young fan in the stands at Riverfront Stadium. (AP Photo/Nick Cammett, File)

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FILE - Cincinnati Bengals punter Kevin Huber (10) punts in the first half of an NFL football game against the Cleveland Browns, Sunday, Jan. 9, 2022, in Cleveland. Huber has been a Bengals fan all his life. He grew up in Cincinnati, went to college there and rooted for the city to celebrate a championship. The 36-year-old Bengals punter is the team’s longest-tenured player and he’s a victory away from helping deliver a Super Bowl title to his city - and fulfilling a dream that started as a young fan in the stands at Riverfront Stadium. (AP Photo/Nick Cammett, File)

Team’s punter is a Cincinnati native

The Cincinnati Bengals’ trip to the Super Bowl has been a wild ride for many, and longer for some than others.

No current player has been around longer than punter Kevin Huber, who like long snapper Clark Harris is in his 13th season with the Bengals.

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While while Harris’ time in Cincinnati began in 2009, Huber’s history with the team goes back much farther than that.

The McNicholas High School grad started going to Bengals games with his dad at Riverfront Stadium when he was a kid.

“I couldn’t tell you who was playing, what year it was or anything like that,” he said when asked about his first Bengals game. “I just enjoyed going down and just watching some sports with my dad and getting to see the team play back at the old stadium.”

The Bengals drafted him out of the University of Cincinnati in the fifth round in 2009, and he has more than proven them correct for using precious draft capital on a punter back then.

Huber is the team leader in punts (980), punting yards (44,426), gross average (45.3), net average (40.3) and punts inside the 20 (337).

He’s set to break a tie with Ken Riley for most games played (207) on Sunday, and at 36 he does not seem to be dropping off, either.

He averaged 41.05 net yards per punt this season, fifth-best in team history and not far off the team record he set last season (42.8).

He is set to be a free agent, though, and acknowledged the Super Bowl could be his last game with the Bengals, who this week announced they signed former Ohio State punter Drue Chrisman to a futures contract.

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“I think I’ve got several years left in me,” Huber said. “I’d love to keep playing here.

“I do know with the nature of the business there’s a chance that it could be my last game here, but I don’t think it’s my last game playing at all. So, you know, once the season’s over, we’ll figure that stuff out, but for now I’m just trying to enjoy this week and just trying to get this win.”

With two weeks between the AFC Championship Game and the Super Bowl, Huber said he has taken more than a little time to reflect on the journey so far, especially given that he has shared his whole career with Harris and special teams coach Darrin Simmons.

“We’ve definitely taken some time to look back at where we came from back in ‘09,” Huber said. “We had some really good seasons and some really bad seasons, but just to sit here this week and be like, ‘Hey we’re about to play in the Super Bowl.’ It’s been a lot of fun to look back and just kind of see where we’ve come.”

Simmons, who coached Huber in the Senior Bowl 13 years ago before the team decided to draft him, said it has been an incredible experience to share with him.

“Him being a lifelong Cincinnati resident, he knows what it feels like to be a part of this and then certainly have a big hand in it,” Simmons said. “And then to win some of these games, he knows how much it means to this team and city especially because he grew up a fan and now he gets to be a part of it. It means so much more to him and makes it that much sweeter.”

He appreciates the consistency Huber has brought to the job for more than a decade.

“You don’t want the up and down years for punters, and Kevin’s been able to stay very consistent,” Simmons said. “He’s like a coach on the field for the rest of these guys.

“He’s been through every situation you could possibly be in as a player, and he’s handled it and understands it like a coach. And that’s all you can look for. That’s all I want in a player is somebody like that.”

Huber said he has allowed himself to think about what the post-game celebration could be like with his family — that’s part human nature and part logistics because his wife would need to know how to get to the field if the opportunity arises — and he can picture his home city in the thrall of celebration, too.

“This city would just implode if we win this game,” Huber said. “Just a long time of waiting for this moment. Getting there a couple times but losing, then that long drought between the last time we went and now — it would mean everything for this city.

“I would assume the parade would be pretty epic.”

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