When the Super Bowl 56 broadcast returned from industrial after the Pepsi Halftime Show, it confirmed an establishing shot of SoFi Stadium and a promotion for a Jennifer Lopez film on Peacock.

Then as Mike Tirico welcomed the 208 million viewers again to the sport between the Bengals and Rams, he identified the rating.

“The Rams lead by three,” Tirico mentioned. “It’s a field-goal game. You think the Bengals’ field goal kicker is nervous? No. Evan McPherson watched the halftime show. He was out there the whole time.”

And there’s McPherson, vast eyes and laughing smile as any 22-year-old at a dream live performance can be.

Tirico completed voicing the seemingly ideas of each Bengals fan who witnessed the impossibly clutch and funky star kicker in the course of the course of his legendary rookie season: “I love this kid.”

It transitions to a shot of McPherson sitting on the bench, providing a shrug to the digital camera that discovered him on the sideline.

Super Bowls can outline careers and add to legacies. Those eight seconds cemented the McPherson legend.

The story would have lived atop Bengals lore endlessly if he might have lined up a 3rd consecutive game-winning area objective two hours later. Instead, Aaron Donald ran round pointing to his ring finger.

But simply as memorable is the story of how that fun-loving second got here to be, the position of veteran lengthy snapper and initiator Clark Harris, what enraged a coach, affected the Super Bowl and the immense quantity of hassle it brought about that nonetheless hasn’t utterly gone away.

“When you do dumb shit,” Harris mentioned, “you don’t want to drag other people with you.”

It additionally leaves an advanced reply to a easy query: Would you do it once more?

“Uhhhh … ” McPherson started after a protracted pause.

On Jan. 20, the Bengals had been 5 days faraway from the largest victory within the historical past of Paul Brown Stadium, one which snapped a 31-year drought within the postseason. They had been within the closing levels of observe prep for a divisional-round matchup with the top-seeded Titans in Nashville.

The announcement got here throughout NFL Network. The Super Bowl halftime performers would have a legendary Southern California hip-hop vibe. Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg, Eminem, Mary J. Blige and Kendrick Lamar had been introduced because the performers for what’s at all times one of many greatest moments in music annually.

For some, an NFL mic drop.

Right then, prolific rookie kicker McPherson and 37-year-old Harris began speaking about what would flip into an unprecedented sneak-out seen internationally within the greatest sport of their soccer careers.

“We said if we have the opportunity, we will go out there and watch it,” McPherson mentioned.

Two days after the announcement, Harris snapped to holder Kevin Huber and McPherson booted a 52-yarder on the gun to earn the Bengals a win in opposition to the Titans and a visit to face the Chiefs within the AFC Championship Game.

“When we started making a little run,” Harris mentioned, “I was like, ‘Shit, if we make it, I’m watching the halftime show.’”

The run continued the subsequent week when Harris to Huber to the boot of McPherson delivered an time beyond regulation walk-off win in Kansas City to cap Cincinnati’s inconceivable run to its first Super Bowl in 33 years.

It supplied the chance of a lifetime — in additional methods than one.

“It was one of those things you couldn’t really miss it, right?” McPherson mentioned. “You got all those artists in one stadium.”

You can virtually hear the phrases of Eminem in “Lose Yourself” enjoying beneath McPherson’s reflection.

Look, if you happen to had one shot or one alternative to grab the whole lot you ever needed in a single second would you seize it or simply let it slip?

Time for the file scratch.

“Don’t tell me that,” particular groups coordinator Darrin Simmons mentioned with a smirk of disbelief, as he heard the scheming particulars recounted earlier this week.

Simmons constructed a spectacular, revered 20-year run as Bengals particular groups coordinator and now assistant head coach below Zac Taylor on a basis of belief of his gamers to be in the appropriate spot on the proper time on a regular basis.

So, when it got here to halftime of the largest sport of his skilled life, his first job was to get everybody on the identical web page with a number of important changes vital for the second half. Linebacker Germaine Pratt had gotten injured and so they wanted to shift personnel round in a number of packages.

As he’s happening the road within the room, he can’t discover Harris. He asks. He seems. He scans. He searches. Nowhere.

And this isn’t the usual in-and-out, 12-minute halftime of each different NFL sport. This was 32 minutes and 57 seconds between whistles.

“I just couldn’t find him,” Simmons mentioned. “I looked all around the locker room and I can’t find him. I have to go on and make adjustments with everybody else. I had to move two players and make adjustments with the punt team. I don’t have the key cog in that. That’s what frustrated me the most.”

It didn’t inevitably find yourself inflicting a difficulty within the sport.

“The fact I wasn’t in there for that didn’t screw anything up,” Harris mentioned, “but could potentially have been a thing.”

Frustrated can be a well mannered method to time period Simmons’ ideas on the state of affairs. It did begin with Harris, and so they each perceive why.

Every plan wants a hoop chief.

“I’m a 13-year vet,” Harris mentioned. “So when you tell a rookie, ‘Hey, I’m going to do this, they are like, ‘Oh, it’s OK then I can do it, too.’ I have a relationship with Darrin that is a little different than a rookie coming in. We have been together for 13 years. It’s a little different.”

Clark Harris has performed in 201 regular-season video games for the Bengals. (Mark J. Rebilas / USA Today)

McPherson wasn’t any rookie. He was a star and one of the common storylines within the weeks main as much as the Super Bowl, because of Joe Burrow telling the story of his prediction he would ship the Bengals to the AFC title sport earlier than booting the game-winner in Tennessee. He made 5 walk-off game-winners in the course of the season.

His view on watching the present was easy: nothing is de facto altering.

“So we knew prior to, if we have the second-half kickoff I probably would have went in so we could discuss what we wanted to do,” McPherson mentioned. “But we didn’t have the second-half kickoff. Normally, on a normal halftime, we will go in, pee, come right back out. That’s what I did. I went inside, peed, came back out, and there just so happened to be the halftime show going on. I kept to my normal routine, there was just a show going on.”

Well, at first, there wasn’t. There was only a setup for a present occurring and Harris already knew he had made his first mistake.

“I watched them set up for like 15 minutes, I said this is stupid, if I was smart I would have went inside where everyone could see my face and then snuck away,” Harris mentioned. “They’d say, ‘Where’s Clark? I don’t know, I just saw him, but I don’t know where he went.’ I can say, ‘Oh, I was in the bathroom.’ I should have taken a different approach to it.”

Another strategy would have been to particularly ask if it might be all proper. After all, observe squad gamers and different workers members had been additionally watching.

Harris by no means tried to go that route, relatively extra for one in all vaguely believable deniability.

“I said this is what I’m doing and nobody ever told me no,” Harris mentioned, “So, I thought it was cool.”

As Harris identified, he has a protracted, distinctive relationship together with his coordinator of 13 years. There’s an understanding that he can deal with it.

“I feel like if Evan wasn’t out there, I wouldn’t have gotten in trouble,” Harris mentioned. “A rookie, you don’t want him distracted. I don’t get distracted. I don’t care about what’s going on around me. I just snap. You don’t want to get a rookie distracted so you could have a huge part of the game distracted. That is kind of where the backlash has come. It is kind of causing a distraction. If it’s just me, whatever. I accept it. I realize if I just would have shut up and did it on my own, I’m sure it would have been fine.”

Cue narrator: It was not tremendous.

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Evan McPherson kicks a area objective within the first quarter in opposition to the Rams in Super Bowl LVI. (Kirby Lee / USA Today)

Especially not as soon as the NBC cameras discovered McPherson.

“I didn’t even think there would be any cameras,” McPherson mentioned. “I just sat down and was kind of waiting.”

Instead, there they had been. Locked on the rookie sensation. Now, a probably nameless infraction was entrance and heart on the yr’s greatest TV broadcast.

“It’s triple, it’s triple-y bad,” Simmons mentioned. “It’s embarrassing.”

Once the halftime present ended and everybody reconvened on the sector, Simmons and Harris finally discovered one another, although, it wasn’t precisely full of tales of Dr. Dre’s closing verse to “Still D.R.E.”

“Yeah,” Harris mentioned, “He was kind of mad.”

In March on the NFL Scouting Combine, Simmons referred to it as “still a sore subject.”

All sides had probabilities to speak by means of it and have their aspect of the argument heard.

“We did have a discussion about it,” Harris mentioned. “I apologized and I didn’t. I apologized for being a distraction and the distraction part of it. I’m not sorry I stayed out there. I’m just sorry it could be construed as a selfish act. I’m not a selfish guy, I don’t want people to think that of me. I can see how it can be construed as that.”

Asked if it’s water below the bridge now, the coordinator wouldn’t fairly go that far.

“It’s not under the bridge,” Simmons mentioned with a tone suggesting it’s shut. “I’m still floating on the float. It is what it is.”

Coincidence or not, Harris, who has by no means had an unplayable snap in his 13 years with the Bengals, is now joined by undrafted free agent Cal Adomitis (University of Pittsburgh) within the specialists’ room.

The idea of job competitors introduced out the perfect in Harris, whom Simmons applauded for displaying up in nearly as good of form as he has been in recent times and “worked his tail off” to arrange for the battle to maintain his gig.

Was the improved motivation a direct response to the Super Bowl incident?

“I don’t know if he was motivated,” Simmons mentioned. “It motivated me.”

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Clark Harris and Evan McPherson have a good time a area objective in Week 7. (Sam Greene / USA Today)

It’s not fairly Kumbaya simply but, however extra exactly the refrain from Kendrick Lamar ought to play as the story of this caper ties up all of the unfastened ends on the conclusion of OTAs.

We gon’ be all proper, we gon’ be all proper.

There seems to be no extra drama, however the query of the day stays. Knowing what you understand now, would you do it once more?

“Yes, but I’d go inside for 10 minutes first,” Harris mentioned. “Let them see my face, let them know I was in the locker room, then I’d go out.”

As for McPherson, whose private model and legend had been solely boosted by his halftime shift to spectator, there was that lengthy pause because the query hung within the air.

“Uhhhh,” he started. “Looking back on it, if there was a camera in my face, I wouldn’t stay out there. I get how it looked. It probably looked pretty bad. I probably wouldn’t do it again, but no regrets.”

(Top picture: Robert Hanashiro / USA Today)

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