Just win, Bengals: Cincinnati fan is living on roof of his restaurant until team gets a victory

Sports fans are known to do crazy things. Hopefully not injury-risking, set-yourself-on-fire-jumping-onto-a-flaming-table crazy, but a better kind of crazy.

Jeff Lanham is more in the latter category. We think.

Joke announcement becomes real

Lanham and his wife Chrissy own Hog Rock Cafe in Milan, Ind., about 40 miles from Cincinnati. As you’d guess, they’re Bengals fans.

Via the Washington Post, after the Bengals lost their fourth game of the season, Chrissy Lanham was on Facebook trying to defend their team in the wake of the 27-3 drubbing at the hands of the Pittsburgh Steelers when Jeff told her he was going to live on the roof of the sports bar if Cincinnati lost to the Arizona Cardinals in Week 5.

Jeff Lanham has been living on the roof of his sports bar for weeks, and will remain until the Bengals get their first win. (Hog Rock Cafe/Facebook)
Jeff Lanham has been living on the roof of his sports bar for weeks, and will remain until the Bengals get their first win. (Hog Rock Cafe/Facebook)

Jeff was joking, but Chrissy changed the game when she shared her husband’s pronouncement on live television before the Cardinals game; local station WKRC often does remote hits from Hog Rock’s popular tailgate party when Cincinnati is on the road.

As a man of his word, after the Bengals lost to the Cardinals, Jeff followed through.

Living on the roof

On October 7, the day after the Bengals’ loss in Arizona, 42-year-old Jeff has been living on the roof of the restaurant.

“I said it, so it’s my fault, but she kinda put salt in the wound by saying it live on channel 12 news. So now I’m livin’ it,” Lanham said. “Until they win, I’m stuck on the roof.”

For the record, it’s been 41 days so far. On Sunday, Cincinnati is on the road against the Oakland Raiders and the Raiders are favored to win.

Save for a half-day off, when he honored a commitment to cook to help family friends’ sick child, Jeff has spent 23 hours a day in a 12-foot by 10-foot tent on the roof of Hog Rock. Initially he walked laps around the roof to pass time, but it’s already snowed in Milan, so Jeff spends most of his day in his sleeping bag watching Netflix on a flat screen television.

He also has a heater, clothes, snacks and a cot. He comes down to use the bathroom and to shower, but his meals are delivered either by restaurant staff or his wife, who also brings him clean clothes from their home, which is a few minutes away.

Jeff’s arrangement wasn’t part of a bet, so really there aren’t any rules dictating what he can and can’t do.

But the sports bar’s patrons have been following along, and they seemingly made up the rules.

“When the Bengals lost the Cardinals game I had intended to only leave for Bengals’ home games, but the haters on Facebook and stuff kept whining so I just don’t go nowhere,” he said. “All I do is go to the bathroom and then back out here on the roof.

“You just get bored as hell up here watching TV and Netflix, but there’s literally nothing else for you to really do now that it’s like 20 degrees. I just turn my heater on, strip down to my boxers and lay in my sleeping bag for most of the day.”

Not the first Bengals fan

Jeff isn’t the first person to rough it for the Bengals. In 1991, sports radio reporter Dennis “Wildman” Walker spent 61 days on the station’s billboard. But that was part of a bet: WEBN had made the wager with a Denver radio station.

The Bengals lost to the Broncos, 45-41, and Walker had to pay up.

Jeff has cited Walker as an inspiration, and Walker even visited him on the roof to watch a game together, offering Jeff advice on how to maintain his sanity.

Another visitor: Bengals legend Ickey Woods. Woods gave Jeff an autographed jersey and watched a game with him.

“My husband isn’t really the type to get starstruck or anything like that, but I could tell that getting to meet one of his team’s best players meant a lot to him,” Chrissy said.

Chrissy doesn’t usually pray for Bengals wins — she reasons God has more important things to worry about — but she’s changed her mind.

“This process has gone through stages for me personally, because I can obviously visit him whenever I want to, but it’s just not the same as having him with me at our home,” she said. “Being the upstanding man that he is, I know that he’ll never break an agreement, so I’m just praying that the Bengals win so he can come back home.”

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