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‘I’m so excited!’ 103-year-old Bengals fan is praying for win on Sunday

Rita Keener has been a fan for the franchise’s entire existence. She’s ready to see it do something it’s done only twice before.
Published: Jan. 26, 2022 at 9:53 PM EST
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CINCINNATI (WXIX) - Is Rita Keener the oldest member of Who Dey Nation?

She might be. At 103 years young, Rita has cheered the Bengals to victory—and not a few defeats—for the entire 55-year history of the franchise.

And then some.

“They’re my favorite team,” said Rita, who lives at Madonna Manor. “I’m real excited.”

June, Rita’s daughter, voices play-by-play during Bengals games because her mother can no longer see.

“And so I can tell her, ‘He got sacked again,’” June said. “And I can explain to her what that means—’They pushed him down mom and nobody was protecting him.’”

Keener, born in 1919, was alive for the founding of the NFL (then the American Professional Football Association) in 1920.

She was there—hypothetically—to see the Cincinnati Reds football team play two dismal seasons in the APFA from 1933-34.

She might also have watched the first incarnation of the Cincinnati Bengals, formed in 1937. Or the second incarnation, formed in the 1940. Or the third, formed in 1967, which is the same we know today.

Keener isn’t focused on the past right now, though. She’s focused on this version of the Bengals, led by Head Coach Zac Taylor and Quarterback Joe Burrow, together with a legion of young, talented players.

“I’m a devoted fan of Joe—smoking Joe,” Keener laughed. “Who isn’t?”

She’s doing her part ahead of the Bengals’ game Sunday against the Kansas City Chiefs at Arrowhead.

“I’ll be praying my rosary for ‘em,” she said.

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