By Joe Starkey
Thursday, September 21, 2006
CINCINNATI - At the NFL Combine in late February, Steelers coach Bill Cowher was asked about his mocking of the Cincinnati Bengals' victory chant.
"I know; I know," Cowher said. "I'm not going to be well-liked in Cincinnati."
He got that right.
Bengals fans with long memories aren't hard to find. Just spend five minutes downtown.
"I didn't like it -- and a lot of Cincinnati fans didn't like it," said Rhonda Hall, manager of a Bruegger's Bagels near Paul Brown Stadium. "They were taking our chant and turning it against us."
"I think it was pretty classless," said Damien Fullinger, 25. "They'd taken out our quarterback (Carson Palmer), and they were rubbing it in our face."
NFL Films had captured Cowher leading his team in a "Who Dey? We Dey!" chant in the locker room after a playoff victory here. It was a play on the Bengals' victory chant, which goes, "Who Dey? Who Dey? Who dey think gonna beat dem Bengals?"
A month later, at the Steelers' Super Bowl victory parade, Cowher again conducted his version of the chant, this time with a quarter of a million Steelers fans.
Cowher stepped to the microphone that day and said, "When I say 'Who Dey!' you say, 'We Dey!' Ready? ... Who Dey?"
The crowd responded to three Cowher prompts, after which the coach exclaimed, "I love that!"
Bengals coach Marvin Lewis didn't particularly like it, but he was quick to use some footage as a motivational tool going into Sunday's game at Heinz Field.
Before practice Wednesday, Lewis showed his players video of the Steelers' locker-room celebration in Cincinnati.
"My first time seeing it was this morning," said receiver Chad Johnson. "Coach played it for us, and, I don't know, it's just ... very rude."
"We don't need any motivation, but (Cowher) said it, and you can't take it off tape; you can't erase it," said defensive tackle John Thornton. "Just like after we beat them up there, guys were wiping their shoes with the Terrible Towels, using it as a bib. It's give-and-take, but those guys, they took it a lot further than we did."