The Cincinnati Bengals are a NFL club that plays in the North Division of the American Football Conference (AFC). They were established in 1968 as part of the American Football League (AFL). In 1970, they became part of the NFL’s AFC when the AFL and NFL merged.
The Bengals’ franchise was granted in 1967 to a group headed by Paul Brown. Brown brought a NFL pedigree to the AFL, being the founder and first head coach of the Cleveland Browns. He was with the Browns from 1946 to 1962.
Brown chose the name “Bengals” for two reasons. First, it was a link to a former Bengals club that had played from 1937 to 1942 in Cincinnati as part of three different American Football Leagues, none of which were related to the AFL that was founded in the 1960s. Additionally, the zoo in Cincinnati had a rare white Bengal Tiger. Brown, who had been fired from the Cleveland Browns by new owner Art Model in 1963, decided to replicate the Brown’s colors in the Bengals’ uniforms. This may have been done as an insult to Model.
The Bengals, although often being considered a team of promise, have never won a Super Bowl. In 1981 and 1988, after winning the AFC, they appeared in that ultimate NFL venue. In 1981 in Super Bowl XVI, they lost to the San Francisco 49ers 26-21 and in 1988 in Super Bowl XXIII they lost again to the 49ers 20-16. The Bengals won six division titles in 1970, 1973, 1981, 1988 and 1990 when they were part of the AFC Central and in 2005 as members of the AFC North.
The Bengals have seen two of their players inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Offensive lineman Anthony Munoz (Cincinnati 1980-1992 and Tampa Bay 1993) and wide receiver Charlie Joiner (Houston 1969-1972, Cincinnati 1972-1975 and San Diego 1976-1986). Munoz played the majority of his career with the Bengals, while Joiner’s tenure with the team was a mere stopover. Munoz appeared in 185 games, started in all but two and recovered six fumbles. He was selected to the Pro Bowl 11 times and was a 10 time All-Pro selection, while Joiner’s three Pro Bowl selections occurred when he was with San Diego. Paul Brown, as a head coach and owner, was also selected as a member of the Hall of Fame.
Cincinnati first played in Nippert Stadium from 1968- 1969 and then in Riverfront Stadium from 1970 to 1995 and in the same stadium but newly named Cinergy Field from 1996 to 1999. They moved into the new Paul Brown Stadium in 2000 and presently play their home games there.
The Bengals are owned by Mike Brown, Paul Brown’s son, and coached by Marvin Lewis. In the 1990s, the Bengals were known as the Bungles because of their string of losing and .500 seasons, which stretched to 14. “Who Dey!” is the chant that Bengals’ fans use to support their team, even though it makes no sense.