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3 things you probably didn’t know about the Bengals

Was originally an expansion club of the American Football League

#1. Another Bengals team

Paul Brown was awarded an American Football League (AFL) franchise to become that league’s 10th club.

The original Cincinnati Bengals played in the second league that called themselves the American Football League, commonly referred to as AFL2. This eight team entity lasted from 1936-1937 and is where the Cleveland Rams, later relocated to become the Los Angeles Rams, were born.

1937 Bengals

The Bengals joined the AFL2 in 1936 and posted a 2-3-2 record. When the AFL2 folded after the 1937 season, the Bengals became an Independent team and played other regional clubs as well as filled in on many NFL schedules. In 1940, the Bengals joined the third American Football League (AFL3) and went 1-7-0 and 1-5-2 before that league folded after the 1941 season because of World War II.

Paul Brown had selected the moniker “Bengals” for the new team “to give it a link with past professional football in Cincinnati.”

#2. Atlanta first, then Miami

Around 1964, the AFL received a good television contract from ABC and decided to expand from eight teams to eventually 12. Unlike most pro football leagues, none of the original eight had folded although two clubs did relocate. The AFL’s first choice of a city was Atlanta which was getting the baseball Braves from Milwaukee.

The AFL awarded a franchise to Atlanta, but the NFL intervened and in the end, the City of Atlanta chose the NFL over the AFL. That is another story.

Having been spurned by Atlanta, the league went to their short list which included Miami, Columbus, Seattle, Cincinnati and New Orleans. In 1966, the league’s #2 expansion choice Miami Dolphins took the field. Being an odd numbered league was an issue with scheduling, so the AFL wanted another team into the fold the following year.

That was awarded to a group led by former Browns head coach Paul Brown who was set to be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1967. Brown took the AFL’s expansion city wish list and narrowed it down to Columbus and Cincinnati.

If Atlanta had been an AFL franchise, then Miami would have been next leaving Cincinnati out of the mix. As it turned out, when all 10 AFL clubs were merged into the NFL, the AFL Cincinnati Bengals became the NFL Cincinnati Bengals.

#3. “Who Dey” origins

“Who Dey? Who Dey? Who dey say gonna beat dem Bengals?”

If you root for a team in the AFC North, you know this crowd chant. But where did it come from? If your team is the New Orleans Saints, they have a similar chant except it inserts “Who Dat?” and the Saints name.

This originated at Southern University in Baton Rouge in the 1960’s. Before long, two high schools and two other Louisiana universities were saying it. In 1972, it melded into the Saints crowd and in 1979, the organization decided to adopt the catchy crowd pleaser.

“Who Dat” in it’s own right is the Cajun-French pronunciation of “who is that?” The Cajun people have been saying that long before a football crowd was ever assembled.

With the Bengals, in 1981 the Hudepohl Brewing Company celebrated the Bengals recent success with a limited edition beer can called “Hu-Dey” which was a play on words from the Hudephol name. Printed right on the label was the expression, “Who dey think gonna beat dem Bengals.” That year Cincinnati won the AFC Championship Game and then lost to the San Francisco 49ers in Super Bowl XVL.