Bill Hemmer is a news anchor and current co-host of “America’s Newsroom” on the Fox News Channel. He joined Fox as a correspondent in 2005 after a successful run at CNN, where co-hosted “American Morning,” “CNN Live Today,” and “CNN Tonight.”
Hemmer has covered several important news events in recent years, including the 2000 Florida recount, Operation Iraqi Freedom, and Hurricane Katrina.
A Cincinnati native and Bengals fan, Hemmer was gracious enough to spend a few minutes talking football with BengalsGab. Here’s the interview:
BengalsGab: Thank you for your time today and congratulations on all of your success in your news casting and journalism career. You’ve covered huge stories for CNN and Fox News. What would you say has been the highlight of your career to date?
Bill Hemmer: I don’t think I could point to any particular story. When you are talking about stories like wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, or the recount in Florida for example, you are reporting on things that affect millions or even tens of millions of people. However, I would say that the most profound story for me may have been reporting from the sidewalks of New York after 9/11.
BG: Being from Cincinnati, I guess ending up a Bengals fan was a foregone conclusion for you. Were you always a fan?
BH: Football is my great escape. I truly love the game, and yes being from Cincinnati for me being a Bengals fan was a fait accompli.
BG: What is your earliest Bengal memory?
BH: Probably that concrete field at the old Riverfront Stadium, and Paul Brown in that hat.
BG: How about the sweetest?
BH: I would have to say the “Freezer Bowl” game back in January of ‘82. I was a young high school kid at the time, and that win brought me a lot of joy, watching the game with my buddies. It was 72 degrees below zero. I remember standing on 8 inches of ice at our seats in the plaza level, the frozen river off in the distance, and my eyelids frozen shut from the wind.
BG: Early on in your career, you spent 3 years covering the Bengals, is that right?
BH: Yes, that’s correct. Early on in my career I had the good fortune of working for WLWT and WCPO TV in Cincinnati. I was a sports reporter for WCPO. It allowed me to travel with the team, and attend all the games. It was a lot of fun.
BG: Can you tell us your favorite story about those days? Any insider info or funny anecdotes to share?
BH: My favorite memory is probably witnessing Boomer Esiason lay down in front of the bus (of replacement players) during that strike-shortened season. To this day when I see him he remembers me being there. I can also remember the strange smell coming from the aqueduct at Spinney Field (Old Bengals Practice facility).
BG: I know lots of former players have spoken of the smell and the strange white ooze.
BH: I can’t say I saw that, but I can definitely confirm the smell.
BG: As you know, the team has had a lot of adversity and distractions this year, between the Hard Knocks documentary and the untimely deaths of Vicki Zimmer and Chris Henry. How do you think this has impacted them?
BH: I think it has challenged them in ways they could not have predicted. They’ve responded well, which speaks to the character of the team. I especially feel for Mike Zimmer, coaching just days after that tragedy.
BG: Do you think these events have served to help or hurt them?
BH: I feel they’ll have more incentive and more motivation to win because of what’s transpired. Especially after getting thumped by the Jets last week.
BG: It’s been a good year for the Bengals. What are your thoughts on this year’s team? How do you feel they’ve been able to turn it around so quickly from 4-11-1 to 10-6?
BH: It’s been building for some time. They had a very good team a few years ago, and I think they’ve just been knocked a little off stride due to the injuries to Palmer and some of the off-field things that have gone on. They’ve been a good team for a few years now but they’ve had some issues holding them back. They also have an element of aggressiveness and toughness now that’s been lacking in recent years.
BG: Who is your favorite Bengal?
BH: That’s a tough one. I don’t think I have a favorite player.
BG: All time?
BH: All-time? (pauses) Well I’d say Forrest Greg is my favorite coach. When you look back at the players from Munoz to Collinsworth or Ickey Woods, who was a lot of fun, it’s tough to pick one out.
BG: Fair enough. As a Miami of Ohio Alum, how does it feel seeing Ben Roethlisberger in a Steeler uniform?
BH: Let me tell you, it absolutely breaks my heart! We missed a chance at getting him by a year and I still haven’t fully gotten over it. Then he went and won the Super Bowl in Detroit and I remember thinking that he was just an hour down the road. That really stung. Hopefully we’ll win it this year and that sting will be gone for good.
BG: Your perspective on Chad Ochocinco: Fun, competitive guy or obnoxious showboat?
BH: I think he’s a great self-promoter, and I don’t really have any problem with his act as long as he comes to play on game day. And he does. I will say he should probably avoid getting into the tweets. I don’t see how that can be good for the team.
BG: What were your impressions from last week’s game?
BH: Well, I was at the game and I have to say I was severely disappointed. I really thought we’d come out ready to play, but then I saw (DT Domata) Peko in street clothes and couldn’t find (RB Cedric) Benson suited up and got concerned. The Jets are really big up front on both sides of the ball; offense and defense. To beat them you have to be more physical and aggressive than they are up front, and we didn’t do that.
BG: How do you feel the Bengals will do this Saturday in the rematch?
BH: Getting those guys back on defense will help a lot. It seems to me that when this team has been forced to focus this year, they’ve responded. That’s good. This is their chance to prove themselves again.
BG: What is it like for you, being a Bengals fan in Manhattan, the epicenter of Gang Green’s followers?
BH: (Laughs) Let me tell you, everybody in this building is a Jets fan, and they all know I’m a Bengals fan so it’s been interesting to say the least.
BG: So has it been a week full of ribbing?
BH: Definitely, but I’ve been staying humble.
BG: Hopefully, you’ll get the last laugh on Monday.
BH: Let’s hope so.
BG: How do you plan to watch the game? Will you be with other Bengals fans?
BH: I’ll be at home here in New York. I have some family coming into town and we’ll represent the Bengals. I also have some friends coming over who’ll be representing the Jets so it should be fun. Hopefully the football gods will be kind to our team.
BG: Any score predictions?
BH: No, I don’t. It won’t be high scoring. The weather conditions will have an affect with the ball being slick and those kinds of things and the great defenses will keep the scoring low. I expect a good, well-played and close game.
BG: Thanks again. Can we catch up with you next week to see how it went?
BH: Sure you can.
BG: Anything else you’d like to mention?
BH: Just that I am a huge fan. I love the Bengals and I’ve stayed true. I have a 19 year old nephew who’s a fan as well, and he’s now seen just 2 winning seasons in his entire life. I think we’re due. It’s time for us to cash some chips in.
BG: Thanks so much!