Bengals diehard Brent Suter and Rams backer Keston Hiura go head-to-head with their Super Bowl picks
By Jerry Crasnick
If the Green Bay Packers had advanced to the Super Bowl, Milwaukee teammates Brent Suter and Keston Hiura would have been perfectly content to root for Wisconsin’s team. But as the NFL postseason progressed, the fault lines became clear.
Suter, a product of Moeller High in Cincinnati, is a lifelong Bengals fan. Hiura, a native of Santa Clarita, Calif., is a hardcore Rams supporter. So there’s no doubt where their allegiances will lie when the respective conference champions meet Sunday at SoFi Stadium in Super Bowl LXI.
Suter and Hiura recently got in the spirit by wearing their favorite NFL jerseys on a Zoom chat with the MLBPA. Then they shared their Super Bowl predictions – as well as a friendly wager.
HOW DID YOU TWO BECOME SUCH RABID FANS OF YOUR TEAMS?
Brent Suter: We moved to Cincinnati from Atlanta in ’97, so it's been my hometown for 25 years and I kind of adopted the Reds and Bengals as my teams. I remember going to some heartbreakers -- like the game that Carson Palmer hurt his knee in the playoffs. I was there and you could just feel the air come out of the stadium. It was like watching the same movie over and over again. But this year we’re riding Joey Burrow and some other guys and it’s been unbelievable. It's like a dream come true.
Keston Hiura: I grew up in LA and I’ve always been an LA sports fan. I didn’t have an NFL team growing up in Los Angeles because the Rams left for St. Louis right before I was born. As soon as they moved back to Los Angeles, I was like, ‘All right, that's my team now.’ It was a little tough the first year, but ever since Sean McVay came in, they’ve turned things around. I’ve been following them every year and it’s been amazing to see what they've been able to do so quickly.
HOW INTENSE ARE YOU WATCHING THE GAMES?
Suter: I'm definitely emotionally invested. There's a Cincinnati pep rally song after every touchdown and my son has really bought into that. At the end it goes, ‘Who dey? Who dey? Who dey think gonna beat dem Bengals? Nooo-body!’ It's kind of a corny little ditty, but when everyone chimes in, it’s really, really fun. That’s the big thing I bring to the table during the games. When there's a touchdown, I'm ready to sing that bad boy.
Hiura: I'm not punching TVs or throwing chairs or anything like that. But I’m seriously invested in the game where I'm watching every single drive, every single play. I was in Las Vegas a few weeks ago when the Rams played Tampa Bay, and the place was mainly filled with Bucs fans. I was probably a little vocal screaming, ‘Whose House? Rams House!’ with the 10 other Rams fans that were there.
IF YOU COULD HANG OUT WITH ONE PLAYER ON YOUR TEAM FOR A DAY, WHO WOULD IT BE?
Suter: Joey Burrow, no doubt. The kid seems really cool. Really fun. He’s just a baller, man. And he's an Ohio kid, too. He grew up like 2 ½ hours east of Cincinnati, so it would be really fun to kind of pick his brain and hang out with him for a little bit.
Hiura: I’ve always liked Johnny Hekker, the punter. I find him to be the most electric player on the team. When the Rams moved back to LA, they always kept you on your toes with their special teams. They had a lot of trick plays -- lots of fake punts and fake field goals. And Hekker is always the one behind that, throwing the passes. He’s a guy that I’ve always rooted for and enjoyed watching. So I had to go out and buy a Johnny Hekker jersey.
THIS HAS BEEN A LITTLE TOO CONGENIAL. WHICH TEAM HAS THE BETTER UNIFORMS?
Hiura: I’m a big fan of the Rams jerseys. I wasn't too much of a fan of the old ones, but the new ones came out pretty sick.
Suter: I do respect the Rams. They did it right with their new uniforms. But I have to go with the Bengals. I like the white jerseys, but when they wear the black jerseys with the orange and black stripes on the helmets, that’s nasty.
Hiura: I'll go with the Bengals, because obviously they’ve been in Cincinnati longer. With the Rams coming back, it’s reignited the football fan base. But there are still a lot of Raiders fans and Chargers fans down south of here. I'll give Cincinnati that one -- for now.
Suter: Especially during this playoff run, Bengals fans have been traveling super well. The city is absolutely buzzing right now. I'm 32 years old and I've never seen the Bengals win a playoff game. We’ve been hungry for a while. LA is at home for the Super Bowl, so it’s not like we’re going to outdraw the Rams. But I’m looking forward to a good Bengals turnout.
Hiura: I’ll give them this: They’ll sit there when it’s freezing outside. I’ve watched games in Green Bay when it’s snowing and I’m like, ‘Would I want to be sitting in this right now?’
COOPER KUPP OR JA’MARR CHASE?
Hiura: Chase is going to have an unbelievable career. But how can you go against Cooper Kupp right now? He’s breaking all these records and he arguably should be one of the top two finalists for MVP.
Suter: I respect Cooper Kupp, no doubt. But in terms of like, ceiling and promise in the future, I’ve got to go with Ja’Marr. The sky's the limit for him. And he's actually neighbors with my sister and brother-in-law, so he gets extra (points) for that.
BRENT, YOU’RE LIKE THE MAYOR OF CINCINNATI. IT SEEMS LIKE YOU HAVE A CONNECTION TO EVERYONE.
Suter: I really should have a Sam Hubbard jersey. He's the little brother of a former high school classmate of mine. I remember going over and doing homework at his house and seeing little Sam, and he was in seventh grade at the time. Now he’s this big stud defensive lineman for the Bengals.
It's really funny how it worked. My high school history teacher my sophomore year is now the coordinator for the Bengals’ coaching staff. So I have to give a shout-out to Doug Rosfeld. He was an awesome teacher and football coach. Also, Joe Mixon lives right down the road from me. I have a couple connections on the team and I've pretty much named-dropped all of them.
Hiura: You’ve got the keys to the kingdom.
NOW THAT WE HAVE THAT OUT OF THE WAY, LET’S GET TO PREDICTIONS. WHO’S GOING TO WIN, AND WHY?
Hiura: They’re both high-powered offenses, but I don't think it's going to be a shootout. It’s probably going to come down to the last possession. I'm gonna say Rams 24, Bengals 20. I think it's gonna be more of a defensive game and our D-line is going to be all over Joey B and making it uncomfortable for him in that pocket.
Suter: I'm going to go 31-28 Bengals on a last-second field goal by Shooter McPherson. The kid has ice in his veins.
CAN WE INJECT SOME STAKES TO MAKE THIS A LITTLE MORE INTERESTING?
Suter: I’m good for buying some ribs when we come to Cincinnati this year. Whoever loses has to pay for Montgomery Inn ribs.
Hiura: I’m good with that. I live in Arizona now and there are a lot of Cardinals fans out here, and when the Rams beat the Cardinals, I made my friends wear Rams jerseys all day. So I'm all for a little friendly wager competition. That sounds good to me.
Suter: Thanks for the Montgomery Inn, buddy.