|Established 1968 |
Play in Cincinnati, Ohio
|Team colors|| Black, Orange and White|
|General Manager||Mike Brown|
| League Championships (0)
| Conference Championships (2)
| Division Championships (6)
The Bengals won the AFC championship in 1981 and 1988, but lost Super Bowls XVI and XXIII to the San Francisco 49ers. After Paul Brown's death in 1991, controlling interest in the team was inherited by his son, Mike Brown. In 2011, Brown purchased shares of the team owned by the estate of co-founder Austin Knowlton and is now the majority owner of the Bengals franchise.
The Bengals conduct summer training camp at Georgetown College in Georgetown, Kentucky and play home games in Paul Brown Stadium. Their current head coach is Marvin Lewis, who has held the position since 2003 and is currently the second-longest tenured head coach in the NFL, behind the New England Patriots' Bill Belichick. Their chief rivals are their AFC North Division co-tenants, the Pittsburgh Steelers, Cleveland Browns, and the Baltimore Ravens.
Founding of the Franchise (1968)Edit
In 1967, an ownership group led by legendary former Cleveland Browns and Ohio State Buckeyes head coach, Paul Brown, himself a Massilon, OH, native, after having been out of football for five years after his firing from the Browns by then-owner Art Modell, was granted a franchise in the American Football League (AFL). Brown named the team the Cincinnati Bengals in order "to give it a link with past professional football in Cincinnati." Another Bengals team had existed in the city and played in three previous American Football Leagues from 1937 to 1941.
The city's world-renowned zoo was also home to a rare white Bengal Tiger. Possibly as an insult to Cleveland Browns owner Art Modell, Paul Brown (whose namesake was picked as the Browns nickname) chose the exact shade of orange (actually a slightly darker tangerine like color) used by his former team. He added black as the secondary color. One of the potential helmet designs Brown rejected was a striped motif that was similar to the helmets that Brown eventually adopted for the team in 1981 (the year the team won its first championship of any kind, the AFC Championship victory over the San Diego Chargers, 27-7, to advance to Super Bowl XVI) and which is still in use to this day; however, that design featured yellow stripes on a turquoise helmet which were more uniform in width. Brown was not a supporter of the rival American Football League, stating that "I didn't pay ten million dollars to be in the AFL."
Brown only acquiesced to joining the AFL when he was guaranteed that the team would become an NFL franchise after the impending merger of the two leagues. There was also a complication: Major League Baseball's Cincinnati Reds were in need of a facility to replace the antiquated, obsolete Crosley Field, which they had used since 1912. Parking nightmares had plagued the city as far back as the 1950s, the little park lacked modern amenities, and New York City, which in 1957 had lost both its National League teams (the Dodgers and the Giants) to Los Angeles and San Francisco, respectively, was actively courting Reds owner Powel Crosley.
However, Crosley was adamant that the Reds remain in Cincinnati and tolerated worsening problems with the Crosley Field location, which were exacerbated by the Millcreek Expressway (I-75) project that ran alongside the park. With assistance from Ohio governor James A. Rhodes, Hamilton County and the Cincinnati city council agreed to build a single multi-purpose facility on the dilapidated riverfront section of the city. The new facility had to be ready by the opening of the 1970 NFL season and was officially named Riverfront Stadium. With the completion of the merger in 1970, the Cleveland Browns were moved to the AFL-based American Football Conference and placed in the AFC Central, the same division as the Bengals. An instant rivalry was born, fueled initially by Paul Brown's rivalry with Art Modell. The teams have since met on Monday Night Football twice, the Bengals winning each time.
Games played at Nippert Stadium (1968-69)Edit
For their first two seasons, the Bengals played at Nippert Stadium, which is the current home of the University of Cincinnati Bearcats. The team held training camp at Wilmington College in Wilmington, Ohio, through the 1996 preseason. The team finished its first season with a 3–11 record. One bright spot was running back Paul Robinson, who rushed for 1,023 yards and was named the AFL Rookie of the Year. Founder Paul Brown coached the team for its first eight seasons. One of Brown’s college draft strategies was to draft players with above-average intelligence.
Punter/wide receiver Pat McInally attended Harvard University and linebacker Reggie Williams attended Dartmouth College and served on Cincinnati city council while on the Bengals’ roster. Because of this policy, many former players were highly articulate and went on to have successful careers in commentary and broadcasting as well as the arts. In addition, Brown had a knack for locating and recognizing pro football talent in unusual places.
AFL/NFL Merger: Riverfornt Stadium and AFC Central Division title (1970)Edit
In 1970, the Bengals moved to play at Riverfront Stadium, a home they shared with the Cincinnati Reds until the team moved to Paul Brown Stadium in 2000. The team reached the playoffs three times during that decade, but could not win any of those postseason games. In 1975, the team posted an 11–3 record, giving them what is to this day the highest winning percentage (.786) in franchise history. But it only earned them a wild card spot in the playoffs, behind the 12–2 Pittsburgh Steelers, who went on to win the Super Bowl. The Bengals lost to the Oakland Raiders, 31–28 in the divisional playoffs.
1980s:Period of ConsistencyEdit
With new coach Forrest Gregg at the helm, the Bengals draft future Hall Of Fame tackle Anthony Muñoz out of USC, rebuilding a depleted offensive line, and laying a solid foundation upfront which included him, guard Max Montoya, and center Dave Lapham. The Bengals would struggle again posting a 6-10 record. However, they would sweep the Pittsburgh Steelers derailing their chances for a third straight Super Bowl.
1981: Hold That Tiger: New look and successEdit
The Bengals began the new season with a new look featuring orange helmets with sleek black tiger stripes. At first the butt of jokes by some opposing players over the new Bengal Tiger striped helmet and jersey design, The Bengals started to make oppenents take them quite seriously, clawing and scratching their way to a good start winning three of their first four games. After splitting the next four games the Bengals embarked on a five game winning streak, capturing the AFC Central title.
The Bengals would go on to finish with the best record in the AFC at 12-4, as veteran QB Ken Anderson won the NFL MVP, and Offensive Player of the year by passing for 3,754 yards and 29 Touchdown passes. Many of Anderson's landed in the hands of Rookie Wide Receiver now NBC NFL Sunday Night Football announcer Chris Collinsworth, who caught eight TD passes, while gaining 1,009 receiving yards in an impressive first season. In the first ever playoff game at Riverfront Stadium, the Bengals and Buffalo Bills battled back and forth, with neither team having much trouble moving the ball.
With the game tied at 21 late in the 4th Quarter Ken Anderson hit Chris Collinsworth with 16-yard Game winning TD pass as the Bengals advanced to the AFC Championship Game with a 28-21 win. The Bengals hosted the Chargers in freezing temperatures where the win chill at game time was 59 degrees below 0. The Bengals would freeze the Chargers 27-7 to advance to their first ever Super Bowl.
- Super Bowl XVI: The Bengals faced the San Francisco 49ers in the Pontiac Silverdome, in a Super Bowl featuring two teams that finished in last place in their divisions the previous season. The Bengals had no problem driving the ball down the field, but three turnovers in the red zone, had them trailing all game. The Bengals blew another opportunity as the 49ers prevented them from scoring on first down and goal from the one yard line. The Bengals would end up falling 26-21, nearly coming back trailing by as many as 16 points. ===1982:Strike season=== In a nine-game players strike shortened season, the Bengals finished with an impressive 7-2 record, good enough for the third seed in the eight team AFC Playoff. After a 4-0 record at Riverfront Stadium, the Bengals hosted the New York Jets in the first round of the AFC Playoffs. However, the Bengals could not stop New York Jets RB Freeman McNeil, who rushed for 211 yards on 22 carries, as the Bengals fell 44-17, despite 356 yards passing from Ken Anderson.
Mid/Late 1980's: Sam Wyche/Boomer Esaiason eraEdit
During the mid 1980's, the team would go into a slight period of transition, while still remaining competitve playoff contenders.
- 1984: In 1984, head coach Forrest Gregg, after failing to recapture the success of the Super Bowl season in 1981 and the strike shortened 1982 season in a medicore 1983 season, was fired and replaced with former San Francisco 49ers assistant Sam Wyche, who himself played for the Bengals under Paul Brown from 1968-1970. Bruising FB Larry Kinnebrew would replace standout RB Pete Johnson as the team's best running threat, and they would also draft speedy deep threat WR Tim McGee out of Tennessee and Eddie Brown out of the University of Miami to bolster their receiving corps in 1985,
In Coach Wyche's first season, 1984, the Bengals would draft QB Boomer Esiason of Maryland with their top pick in the 1984 NFL draft, ensuring a capable unstudy for aging Ken Anderson who Wyche, a former QB coach with the 49ers, would groom to be their QB of the future. Some highlights of their accomplishments:
- 1986: Third year QB Boomer Esiason had a third impressive season passing for 3,959 yards as the Bengals post a 10-6 record. However, in the competitive AFC the Bengals end up on the outside looking in when the playoffs begin.
- 1988: The Bengals came flying out of the gate winning their first six games. Led by NFL MVP Boomer Easison, who passes 3,572 yards the Bengals would use the start to springboard them to a 12-4 record, that gave them Home field advantage, and the AFC Central Title. Also helping to guide the Bengals was rookie RB Ickey Woods who shuffled his way to 1,066 yards scoring 15 Touchdowns. Each Touchdown was capped by his trademark dance "The Ickey Shuffle" as a new chant was heard at Riverfront Stadium, "Who Dey, think is gonna beat Dem Bengals." In the Divisional Playoffs at Riverfront Stadium the Bengals offensive line led by Anthony Muñoz destroyed the Seattle Seahawks all game as the Bengals advanced to the AFC Championship with a 21-13 win.
The Bengals run game was so dominating Boomer Easison only needed to throw seven passes, all of which were completed. The AFC Championship Game turned into a war as the Bengals and Buffalo Bills met in a fight filled game. The Bengals would emerge victorious earning a trip to their second Super Bowl with a 21-10 record.
- Super Bowl XXIII: The Bengals were back in the Super Bowl, and once again they were facing the San Francisco 49ers, in Miami.
The Bengals suffered a huge loss early when Tackle Tim Krumrie broke his leg in the 1st Quarter. However the Bengals defense would not fold, and the game went to halftime tied 3-3, it was the first Super Bowl ever tied at halftime. The Bengals would take the lead late the 3rd Quarter on a Stanford Jennings kick return, and entered the 4th Quarter with a 13-6 lead. After the 49ers tied the game 13-13, the Bengals took a lead late in the 4th Quarter on Jim Breech Field Goal. With 3:20 left in the game the Bengals only needed to stop the 49ers once to win the Super Bowl. However, Quarterback Joe Montana led the 49ers on methodical 90-yard drive that ate time, and yardage. Firmly in Field Goal Range Montana hit John Taylor in the end zone with 34 seconds left to break Bengals hearts 20-16 in one of the most dramatic moments in Super Bowl history.
1990's-2002 A long, dry periodEditThe Bengals reached the Super Bowl twice during the 1980s, but lost both times to the San Francisco 49ers. Then, after the team appeared in the playoffs in 1990, Paul Brown died. He had already transferred control to his son, Mike Brown, but was reported to still influence the daily operations of the team. The Bengals' fortunes changed for the worse as the team posted 14 consecutive non-winning seasons.
The 1990s and the 2000s were a period of great struggle. Following the 1990 season, the team went fourteen years without posting a winning record nor making the playoffs. The Bengals had several head coaches and several of their top draft picks did not pan out. Mike Brown, the team's de facto general manager, was rated as among the worst team owners in American professional sports. Compounding matters were off-field problems of several players, notably receiver Chris Henry, who was suspended several times during his short professional career and was briefly released by the Bengals, but was re-signed and remained with the team until his death in 2009.
The Marvin Lewis/Paul Brown Stadium era 2003-2018Edit
The Bengals began to slowly re-emerge from that dismal period into a new era of increased consistency, however, after the hiring of Marvin Lewis as head coach in 2003. Carson Palmer, the future star quarterback, was drafted in 2003, but did not play a snap that whole season, as Jon Kitna had a comeback year (voted NFL Comeback Player of the Year). Despite Kitna's success, Palmer was promoted to starting quarterback the following season. Under Palmer, the team advanced to the playoffs for the first time since 1990 in the 2005 season, which also was the first time the team had a winning percentage above .500 since 1990. The Bengals returned to the playoffs again in 2009 in a season that included the franchise's first ever division sweep.
This was especially impressive since two of the teams swept by the Bengals (the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Baltimore Ravens) had both made it to the AFC Championship Game the previous season. Marvin Lewis was rewarded for the accomplishment with the NFL Coach of the Year Award. Meanwhile, Paul Brown Stadium was built for the 2000 season using private and public money. In a tribute, Mike Brown named the stadium after his father during a time when it was a trend in the NFL to accept corporate offers to have the stadium renamed for a corporation. In the 2010 season, the Bengals posted a 4-12 record. In the 2011 NFL season, the Bengals improved to 9-7 and clinched a playoff spot. They lost to the Houston Texans 31-10.
Since the mid-2000s, the team's fortunes have improved. Two years after becoming head coach, Marvin Lewis guided the Bengals to their first winning season and first division title in over a decade. After the acquisition of Andy Dalton as quarterback in 2011, the Bengals had made the playoffs each season until 2016, ranking highly among NFL teams in win totals. The Bengals drafts are also highly touted, leading to a consistency that had long escaped the franchise. However, the team has remained unable to win in the postseason and have not won a playoff game since 1990, which is the longest such drought in the NFL.
End of Marvin Lewis era / future Edit
On December 31, 2018 the Bengals and head coach Marvin Lewis mutually agreed to part ways at the conclusion of the 2018 NFL season after the Bengals failed to make the Playoffs for the third straight year  . Lewis has endorsed Bengals assistant coach Hue Jackson as his successor .
- ↑ Katzowitz, Josh. "Mike Brown Now Owns Most of Bengals Franchise", CBS Sports, CBS Interactive, December 23, 2011. Retrieved on December 8, 2012.
- ↑ "HBO Shows Bengals Behind the Scenes", August 20, 2009. Retrieved on December 8, 2012.
- ↑ "The 16 Worst Owners in Sports: Mike Brown – Cincinnati Bengals". Retrieved on December 8, 2012.
- ↑ Polian: Questioning Bengals success 'absurd'. Retrieved on 2015-09-17.
- ↑ http://ftw.usatoday.com/2015/12/poor-cincinnati-its-shaping-up-to-be-another-wild-card-loss-for-the-bengals