Cincinnati Bengals Football
The Cincinnati Bengals are a professional football team affiliated with the NFL. Based in Cincinnati, Ohio, they are part of the AFC North. Home games are played at Paul Brown Stadium, and the team’s mascot is “Who Dey,” a Bengal tiger. The team has made two Super Bowl appearances, losing to the San Francisco 49ers on both occasions.
Beginning of the Bengals Franchise
An ownership group led by Paul Brown was granted an AFL franchise in 1967. Brown had been the founder and former coach of the Cleveland Browns franchise. The name was chosen because a Bengals team had existed as part of the American Football League from 1937 through 1942, and the Cincinnati zoo also had a rare white Bengal Tiger on display.
Brown was not a fan of the AFL, believing it to be an inferior league. He only joined the league after being assured that the AFL and NFL would merge in future years. Brown was quoted as saying, “I didn’t pay ten million dollars to be in the AFL.”
The only bright spot in the first few years was the play of running back Paul Robinson. He rushed for 1,023 yards in 1968 and was named the AFL Rookie of the Year.
When the two leagues merged, the Browns and Bengals both found themselves in the AFC Central. Due to the hatred between Art Modell (who fired Brown from the team he had founded) and Paul Brown, and the fact that both teams were based in Ohio, an intense rivalry quickly developed between the Browns and Bengals.
The 1970s Cincinnati Bengals
The team was up and down throughout the 70s, but they did manage to make the playoffs on three occasions. Each time, they were eliminated in their first game. During this period, they also won their division twice, thanks to players such as Greg Cook, Paul Robinson, Jim LeClair, Isaac Curtis, Bob Trumpy, Pete Johnson, Lemar Parrish and Ken Riley.
The 1980s Cincinnati Bengals
Fans of Cincinnati Bengals football had something to cheer about in the 80s, as players such as Ickey Woods, Boomer Esiason, Ken Anderson, James Brooks, Cris Collinsworth, Anthony Munoz and Eddie Brown made the Bengals a force to be reckoned with.
They made their first Super Bowl appearance in 1981, taking on the San Francisco 49ers in Super Bowl XVI. They lost the game by a score of 26 to 21. During this season, quarterback Ken Anderson ran the West Coast Offense, a system designed by both Paul Brown and Bill Walsh.
In 1982, the team took part in “The Freezer Bowl,” the coldest game played in the history of the NFL. As the Bengals took on the Chargers in the AFC championship game, the temperature was measured at 45 degrees below zero (with wind chill factored in).
Former Bengals’ player Sam Wyche became the head coach in 1984, and he led the team to another Super Bowl appearance in 1988. In Super Bowl XXIII, the team once again faced off against the 49ers. The result was the same, as the Bengals lost 20 to 16.
Wyche and offensive coordinator Bruce Coslet made the no-huddle offense a regular part of their strategy. This innovative decision left defenders fatigued and limited the time for substitutions.
The Ickey Shuffle became a popular move during the 1988 season. Rookie running back Ickey Woods would perform this dance move each time he scored a touchdown. This celebration resulted in the league handing out penalties for excessive celebrations, and the dance eventually had to be performed on the sidelines.
The 1990s were far less kind to the Bengals. Following the death of Paul Brown in 1990, the team was passed to his son, Mike Brown. The Bengals then went 14 straight years without a winning season, despite the presence of players like Corey Dillon, Carl Pickens and Jeff Blake. They won 52 games during the decade, leading many fans and critics to refer to the team as “The Bungles.”
Marvin Lewis was hired as the head coach in 2003, and star quarterback Carson Palmer was drafted the same year. Palmer would not see the field until the following year, when he led the team to their first playoff appearance since 1990. But despite renewed hope, the team failed to post a winning record in 2006 and 2007.
Current Cincinnati Bengals Stars
Current stars of the Bengals include:
- Carson Palmer (QB)
- Rudi Johnson (RB)
- Chad Johnson (WR)
- T.J. Houshmandzadeh (WR)
- Deltha O’Neal (CB)
- Antwan Odom (DE)
- Levi Jones (OT)
- Keith Rivers (LB)
Bengals – Hall of Famers – Retired Numbers
The following Bengals have been elected to the NFL Hall of Fame: OL Anthony Munoz, WR Charlie Joiner and coach /owner Paul Brown.
Only one Bengals’ player has had his number retired. This honor belongs to offensive lineman Bob Johnson (54).