Bengals beat writers Fletcher Page and Paul Dehner Jr. preview the team’s Week 14 game at the Los Angeles Chargers.
Kareem Elgazzar, [email protected]
Bengals Xtra is a weekly column from Enquirer beat writers about developments off the field surrounding Bengals football, taking you inside the front office, locker room and beyond.
John Ross and Alex Redmond weren’t alive the last time the Cincinnati Bengals played a football game in Los Angeles.
The Bengals lost to the Raiders Jan. 13, 1991 in the Divisional Round of the AFC playoffs. Cincinnati previously lost in overtime against the Rams months earlier in L.A. during the regular season.
Both the Raiders and Rams relocated in 1995, removing any reason for the Bengals to come back until this weekend. Cincinnati will face the Chargers, recently moved from San Diego (the Rams are back, too), at the StubHub Center located on campus at California State University.
That’s close to where Ross and Redmond grew up, creating the first opportunity for a professional homecoming for the California natives both in the second year of their careers.
Ross grew up in Long Beach; Redmond in Cerritos. Both places are roughly 10 miles from Carson.
“Just the opportunity to have everyone there — my son, my parents, my grandparents and my siblings — I’m going to be emotionally happy to do something like that,” Ross said.
Ross, the wide receiver who has three touchdowns catches in the past four games, couldn’t give an estimate of how many family members and friends will be in the 27,000-seat StubHub Center on Sunday. Maybe an entire section, he said seriously.
Ross was coached in youth football by famed rapper Snoop Dogg. But it’s not a celebrity Ross looks forward to seeing the most. That would be his 18-month old son, Julian.
“The time I miss in the holidays, Thanksgiving and everything, I’m glad I finally get to see him,” Ross said. “I know he wants to see me.”
Redmond, the starter at right guard in all 12 games this season and known for his sense of humor, said he’d have 45 supporters in the stands.
“I’ll probably see my family, but that’s not why I’m there,” Redmond said. “You feel me? I’m there to kick some buns.”
Ross and Redmond played against each other in Pasadena in 2013. Both freshmen, Redmond’s UCLA Bruins defeated Ross’ Washington Huskies.
Other Bengals California natives, Vontaze Burfict (Inglewood) and defensive tackle Josh Tupou (Long Beach), are injured and will not play.
A win would be the Bengals first in Los Angeles since beating the Raiders in 1988, but Sunday will be tough sledding.
The Bengals enter having lost four straight games and six of the past seven. The Chargers have won eight of the past nine games and, at 9-3, are one game behind the Kansas City Chiefs for the best record in the AFC.
Performing well, though, is important to Ross because of the special audience.
“It’s so hard with us all the way over here across the United States in Cincinnati,” Ross said. “They don’t get the games on TV, so they see the highlights here and there. For them to be able to come out and support and enjoy and for a lot of my family members it will be the first game they’ll get to see.”