Fitting that the last pick in 21 years of NFL drafts for Bengals director of football operations Jim Lippincott is Ohio State running back Dan "Boom" Herron.
As the Midwest scout for the Bengals, Herron was in Lippincott's territory. Not only that, as they sat there in the sixth round at Paul Brown Stadium, the Bengals needed a linebacker, and maybe even an offensive lineman, more than a running back.
But the Bengals practiced what they preached and since Herron was their highest-graded player at that point, they took him. Staying true to their board and not reaching for needs has helped made the Bengals drafts of the past few years critically acclaimed instead of critically lambasted and Lippincott has been in every part of it.
So when Bengals president Mike Brown dismissed the group to go sign the college free agents, the Brown family, the coaches, the scouts, the doctors, and the rest sent Lippincott out with applause and head coach Marvin Lewis brought him to the media room for one final goodbye.
"I wanted to sing his praises publicly," Lewis said. "I wanted to let everyone know how valuable he is."
Lippincott, 62, who came to the Bengals as Moeller High School's athletic director and highly-successful defensive coordinator during the glorious '80s, decided at the end of last season he wanted to finish his football life by returning to those glory days and coach the Moeller defense again.
But not before Lewis approached him and asked him to come back the last three weeks before the draft and draft weekend.
"He was so gracious to do that," Lewis said. "They get a feel. They've been at the school. They see more than we can see on tape. He's got relationships and great rapport in his area."
Lewis outlined all the things in Lippincott's bailiwick and it was quite long. Coming off the road on the weekends during the season, he'd meet the team on the road or at PBS to man the coaches booth to help Lewis with challenges. Along with the weekly road trips, he organized rookie workout camps and filled out the rosters as well as running prospects' visits and physical rechecks. The nuts and bolts. Now he wants to go back to the Xs and Os.
"It's been 21 years, 21 drafts and it's been a labor of love," Lippincott said. "I came in today and I thought about it. But I'll be back for practices and talk to the coaches. I've learned so much from the people around here."
Lippincott talked about how much Brown means to him and laughed when he remembered that when Brown hired him he thought he'd only stay two or three years ago and go back to high school coaching.
"I stayed because I love the place," Lippincott said. "I hope when I go back and reinvent my coaching career, I hope I can be half the coach Marvin Lewis is. Even more, be the kind of person he is. He treats people the right way. Just like he's doing here ... and I deeply appreciate what he says."
For the past 21 years, Lippincott would have been upstairs coordinating the college free agent effort. Now with director of player personnel Duke Tobin manning the engines, Lippincott was left trying to remember his favorite moments for Bengals radio analyst Dave Lapham.
"Too many to remember," he said.