Bengals Star Wants Super Bowl Win to Honor Harambe, Gorilla Killed in 2016

Sam Hubbard, a defensive end for the Cincinnati Bengals, said during a podcast Wednesday that he wants his team to win the Super Bowl in tribute to Harambe, a gorilla who was killed at the Cincinnati Zoo in 2016.

The Bengals will first have to beat the Los Angeles Rams in Super Bowl LVI on February 13. The two teams will face off after the Bengals upset the heavily-favored Kansas City Chiefs last Sunday in the AFC Championship game, and the Rams similarly defeated the higher-ranked San Francisco 49ers in the NFC Championship game.

Hubbard expressed his wish to honor Harambe on the podcast Pardon My Take, referring to the late gorilla as the team's "hero." The 17-year-old ape was shot and killed by a zoo worker after a 3-year-old boy climbed into the gorilla's enclosure. Harambe began dragging the young child, causing a park employee to take action. Footage of the 2016 incident quickly went viral, and it's been frequently used in memes since.

Sam Hubbard
Sam Hubbard of the Cincinnati Bengals said during a podcast interview that he wants his team to win the Super Bowl in honor of a gorilla killed in 2016. In this photo, Hubbard celebrates after the win against the Las Vegas Raiders during the AFC Wild Card Playoff game at Paul Brown Stadium on January 15, 2022 in Cincinnati, Ohio. Getty

Before he became a rallying symbol, Harambe was once used as a source of trolling against the Bengals. In 2017, a billboard in Buffalo, New York, referenced the gorilla's death ahead of a game between the Bengals and the Buffalo Bills.

"You can replace Dalton, you can't replace Harambe," the sign from Northtown Automotive dealership read. The "Dalton" referred to then-Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton. (The team's current quarterback is Joe Burrow.)

The Bengals team has since adopted Harambe as an inspiration, Hubbard told the Pardon My Take hosts.

One host, who uses the monicker PFT Commentator, asked Hubbard: "Has there been any discussion around the locker room about winning this one for Harambe, bringing one home for the lowland gorilla?"

"Sweet Prince, I mean, that's our guy. That's our hero," Hubbard answered. "I think that's known, kind of goes without saying. You know, we're doing this for him."

The podcast's other host, Big Cat, asked: "So, it's safe to say that you were on the side of the Harambe grievers and, like, the kid shouldn't have been there?"

"It's tough to say, but, I mean, yeah," Hubbard said.

Big Cat then mentioned that he hopes a reporter will bring up the gorilla during the Super Bowl's Media Day.

Meanwhile, Hubbard said he's fond of a meme that depicts Harambe looking over a football stadium. He said the picture "[m]akes my day every time."

On Twitter, Pardon My Take's official account made a new meme in a post of Hubbard's interview that includes both Harambe and the defensive end.

Hubbard also noted during the podcast appearance that he was in college at Ohio State University when Harambe was killed. The Benglas defensive end and the hosts then joked how Hubbard could have saved the boy and overtaken Harambe in the 2016 incident without resorting to lethal force against the gorilla.

Super Bowl LVI will take place on February 13 at SoFi Stadium in Inglewood, California.