CINCINNATI, OH (FOX19) - Hang on to your stadium seats, everybody. It happened.
After 16 seasons with the Cincinnati Bengals, the team announced Marvin Lewis will not return for the 2019 season.
This was Mike Brown’s decision, not Lewis', and all assistant coaches have been informed and are waiting to find out their statuses, sources say.
‘Bittersweet’ is how Lewis described the decision in his last press conference as the Bengals head coach.
Lewis just completed his sixteenth year with the Bengals without one postseason win in that time.
“I want to thank the Bengals’ organization, the fans and the city of Cincinnati for their support,” Lewis said. “I regret I haven’t been able to provide them with the No. 1 goal of being world champions. I also want to thank our players, coaches and team employees for their effort and professionalism over the past 16 years. A lot of fine people have gone through this building in that time, and the organization is better for all of them having been a part of it.”
The Bengals released a statement Monday morning saying the decision was mutual.
Sunday, Lewis called attention to questions about his job ‘ridiculous.’
“It’s ridiculous,” said Lewis. “I think it’s ridiculous, it’s sad that that’s the only thing they can point to. This isn’t about me. This is about this football team and what they do. To make this about one person, it’s not about one person. It’s my job, that’s it.”
Speculation about Lewis' job security ran rampant at the end of the 2017 season with ESPN reporting in December 2017 that Cincinnati’s longtime head coach would part ways with the team at the end of the season.
Lewis slammed the report at the time calling it ‘speculation.' Weeks later, he signed a deal with the team through the end of the 2019 season.
The Bengals hired 59-year-old Lewis in 2003. In his 16 seasons with the Bengals he is the winningest coach in franchise history, however, that record comes without one single playoff win.
In fact, the team has made the playoffs seven times under Lewis without winning a game.
Lewis took over the team which was coming off a 2 -14 record in 2002 under Dick LeBeau. He turned them around by 2005 when the team secured their first winning season and first division title in more than a decade.
The Associated Press named Lewis coach of the year in 2009 when the Bengals won the AFC North Division and swept all six division games.
The Bengals were also AFC North Champions in 2005, 2013 and 2015.
Lewis is the ninth head coach in Bengals history. He left the team with a 131-129-3 record. His 131 victories is tied for twenty-fourth most in NFL history.
Bengals team officials say Cincinnati was one of only four teams to make the playoffs every year Lewis' five-year streak from 2011 to 2015. The team, however, remained winless in the postseason during that time.
Even though the team did not win a playoff game under tenure, Lewis' seven playoff appearances are tied for tenth in the NFL and the team’s six appearances in the last 10 years, beginning in 2009, is tied for fourth in the league.
With records like the team boasts but no postseason victories to show for it, many can understand the restlessness the Bengals fan base felt under Lewis' leadership.
However restless fans may have felt, it’s not a sentiment shared by Lewis' team who insist they’ll miss their longtime leader.
Running back Giovani Bernard called Lewis a ‘father mentor’ to many of the players in the locker room and said the coach was emotional talking to players about the decision.
Team officials say Lewis coached 21 Pro Bowl players who made a combined 48 Pro Bowl appearances.
“That’s the thing I enjoy, the players. Our players got younger this year, we know, and you enjoy that part of them,” Lewis said of his team. " I told Emily walking off the field Sunday, they’re kids. I wish they were more hardened veteran kids but they’re kids and they ran around yesterday and played their tails off."
“The team is very appreciative of all that Marvin has accomplished over the past 16 years,” Bengals President Mike Brown said. “Personally, I am very fond of Marvin and will miss working with him. He is a friend and a colleague, and I thank him for what he has meant to this franchise. But it is time to turn the page and look toward the next chapter for our organization, and we are excited about what the future holds for the team and our fans.”
Despite the new contract and the hot start to the season, Lewis remained in the hot seat for the 2018 season.
The team began the season on a high note winning four of their first five games, however, a close loss against bitter rival Pittsburgh in week 6 sent the team on a downward spiral that they would not recover from.
Bengals front office began making changes midway through the season, showing fans they are serious about turning the team around.
The team fired defensive coordinator Teryl Austin the Monday after a crushing 51 to 14 blowout loss to the Saints.
They went on to finish the season with a 6 - 10 record. The team secured their last place finish in the AFC North after being swept by in-state rival Cleveland 26 -18.
Cincinnati’s season was riddled with injuries. The team lost quarterback Andy Dalton, star wide receiver AJ Green and pro-bowl tight end Tyler Eifert among many others throughout the year.
Earlier in December Lewis told reporters his job security was the ‘least of his worries.’
When asked if he wants to coach next season, Marvin Lewis smiled and stated, “my job is to coach the football team.”
The fate of Lewis' assistant coaches has yet to be determined by Bengals front office staff, but it seems as though Lewis' special assistant and former head coach of the Cleveland Browns Hue Jackson is done with the team.
Jackson had no comment Monday afternoon and said he did not meet with anyone in ownership Monday morning.