Siena’s play-by-play voice puts profession above Bengals fandom


ALBANY, NY (NEWS10) — If you tuned in to Siena’s men’s basketball game against Quinnipiac on Jan. 30, you heard Robert Lee on the call. What you didn’t hear was the struggle of a die-hard Bengals fan who missed out on his team’s chance to earn a ticket to the Super Bowl.

Robert Lee has been calling Siena basketball games for 20 years, but this game was unlike any other. “It was nerve wracking,” Lee said.

Lee was born and raised as a Bengals fan in Cincinnati. “One of my earliest memories is 1988 or ’89 when they lost the Super Bowl to the 49ers,” Lee said. “You don’t think at this point that will be the last time they’ll be in the Super Bowl for three decades.”

So when Lee found out that the end of the Siena game he was assigned to would overlap with the start of the Bengals AFC Championship game, their first since 1989, there was instant conflict. “Mike Demos, who is the SID in Siena, offered me to skip the game if I wanted to,” Lee said. “I said ‘No, it’s fine, I’ll do the game.’

In addition to his play-by-play duties, his duties as a father played a role. Lee’s daughter was part of the halftime dance clinic.

Lee was able to stay in the loop. “The audio guy sitting next to me had the game on his phone and I wasn’t really watching it, but during the commercials I was watching,” Lee said.

When the Chiefs went up 21-3, it didn’t look good. “I was just like, amazing. This will be the end here.

The Siena game ended in time for Lee to watch Eli Apple’s save game before halftime as he moved to the Albany Stadium restaurant inside the arena. “They’re like, ‘Oh, we close at 6.’ And I was just like, ‘You don’t close at 6.’ The game went into overtime, I’m like, “I’m never coming back if you don’t stay open until 6:15.” To their credit they did, they graciously hosted us until the game was over .

After a stressful 4th quarter and overtime, the Bengals clinched their ticket to face the Rams in the Super Bowl in Los Angeles. Lee’s prediction for the game? “It has to be a field goal that the Bengals win, right? At the buzzer, it’s like that. I’ll call it Bengals 31, Rams 28.”

If the underdog Bengals can do the unexpected and bring Cincinnati the Lombardi Trophy, Lee is ready to let his emotions out. “I’m a big screamer to be honest with you,” Lee said. “I’m not afraid to say it and I’ll cry uncontrollably if they win, and I can’t wait to be there.”


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