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For more than 30 years, John Kiesewetter has been the source for information about all things in local media – comings and goings, local people appearing on the big or small screen, special programs, and much more. Local media is still his beat and he’s bringing his interest, curiosity, contacts and unique style to Cincinnati Public Radio and 91.7 WVXU. Contact John at johnkiese@yahoo.com.

Coffin nails! TVKiese hammers out story about Dan Hoard's catchphrase. Bam! Bam! Bam!

 The catchphrase by Bengals' radio announcers Dan Hoard and Dave Lapham has been immortalized on a T-shirt by Cincy Shirts
Courtesy Cincy Shirts
The catchphrase by Bengals' radio announcers Dan Hoard and Dave Lapham has been immortalized on a T-shirt.

Bengals radio voice Dan Hoard doesn't know why he uttered "Coffin nails!" when the Bengals sealed a victory. But he's glad he did.

Sometime during Dan Hoard's first season as Bengals play-by-play announcer in 2011, when victory was assured, the words just blurted out of his mouth:

Coffin nails!

Instantly analyst Dave Lapham shouted, Bam! Bam! Bam!

Eleven years later, it's not just Hoard's signature saying. It's also a Cincy Shirts T-shirt.

How and why did it all begin?

"I'm afraid it's not a very interesting story," says Hoard, who does radio play-by-play for University of Cincinnati football and basketball in addition to his Bengals duties. Hoard and Lapham will call Super Bowl LVI at 6:30 p.m. Sunday on WLW-AM, WCKY-AM and the Bengals Radio Network.

Neither Hoard nor Lapham remember the game, or the specific circumstances. That's OK. Marty Brennaman told me for my Joe Nuxhall: The Old Lefthander & Me book that he can't remember when he first said, And this one belongs to the Reds!

 Bengals analyst Dave Lapham (left) and play-by-play announcer Dan Hoard.
Courtesy Dan Hoard
Bengals analyst Dave Lapham (left) and play-by-play announcer Dan Hoard.

"At some point at the end of a Bengals win, when they made the play that essentially clinched the victory, I just said, Coffin nails! I don't know why," Hoard explains. "It's not a phrase I use regularly. It just came to mind at that time, and I said it. And Lap immediately followed by saying, Bam! Bam! Bam!

"I can't remember when it started, honestly," says Lapham, who played for the Bengals in the 1982 Super Bowl and had retired to the radio booth by their 1989 Super Bowl. "I just remember that Dan said — very impromptu — when it was clear the Bengals were going to win the game, he said Coffin nails! And I said, Bam! Bam! Bam!"

On the drive home from that game, Hoard heard a radio replay of their call of the moment the Bengals nailed down the win.

"I thought to myself, 'I kinda like that.' I mentioned it to Lap, and we decided that will kind of become our And this one belongs to the Reds! And that's when I started doing it.

"As a broadcaster, this is how you like signature phrases to come about. It was totally unintentional and organic. It's good when it's something that you don't try to come up with, when it's something that happened naturally," Hoard says.

Like this year, Hoard and Lapham got to say the phrase a lot their inaugural season. The Bengals in 2011 were led by a couple of rookies, quarterback Andy Dalton and wide receiver A.J. Green, to a 9-7 record and a wild card berth. Their success, as with the 2021 Bengals, was totally unexpected. When they had finished 4-12 the previous year, quarterback Carson Palmer demanded to be traded and receiver Chad Johnson was dealt to the Patriots.

"The Bengals were widely expected to be the worst or one of the worst teams in the NFL (in 2011), and they went 9-7 and made the playoffs. That ignited the run of five straight playoff years with Andy Dalton at quarterback. It was a really fun season. I think the most fun you can have as a sports fan is when your team turns out to be much better than anybody expected – a lot like the Bengals this year. When you get that unexpected level of success, it is so much fun," Hoard says.

Hoard is cautious not to be a victim of premature exclamation. He makes sure the win is in the bag.

"You don't want to say it too early, or you can wind up with egg on your face," Lapham says.

Don't you want them to say it one more time this season?

"That would be great," Lapham says. "No doubt about it."

Bam! Bam! Bam!

John Kiesewetter, who has covered television and media for more than 35 years, has been working for Cincinnati Public Radio and WVXU-FM since 2015.