professional football team and one of six teams in the Central Division
of the American Football Conference (AFC) of the National Football
League (NFL). Under the league’s realignment plan, which will take
affect in 2002, the Bengals will play in the North Division of the AFC.
The Bengals play at Cinergy Field in Cincinnati, Ohio, and are scheduled
to move to a new venue, Paul Brown Stadium, in the 2000 season. The team
wears uniforms of orange, black, and white. The franchise was named
after the Cincinnati Bengals football team that played in the
now-defunct American Football League between 1937 and 1941.
The Bengals joined a different American Football League (AFL) as an
expansion team in 1968. The club was organized by Paul Brown, who as a
coach had won three NFL titles with the Cleveland Browns during the
1950s. In the Bengals’ first season, running back Paul Robinson led the
AFL in rushing and was named rookie of the year.
Cincinnati joined the NFL in 1970 when the NFL and AFL completed their
merger. The team won the AFC Central Division in its first NFL season,
relying especially on an outstanding defense that starred cornerbacks
Lemar Parrish and Ken Riley. In the playoffs the Bengals lost in the
Brown guided the Bengals to postseason appearances again in 1973 and
1975, and Ken Anderson emerged as one of the NFL’s finest quarterbacks.
He won three consecutive passing titles from 1973 to 1975 with the help
of wide receiver Isaac Curtis and tight end Bob Trumpy. Another favorite
target of Anderson was running back Boobie Clark, the 1973 rookie of the
year. Cincinnati lost in the first round of the playoffs in both 1973
Following several coaching changes and mixed results over the next few
seasons, the Bengals won the division crown in 1981 under head coach
Forrest Gregg, a former offensive tackle and a member of the Hall of
Fame. Anderson won his fourth passing title, and running back Pete
Johnson and rookie wide receiver Cris Collinsworth each gained more than
1,000 yards. In the playoffs, Cincinnati defeated the Buffalo Bills and
the San Diego Chargers before losing to the San Francisco 49ers in the
Super Bowl, 26-21.
The Bengals remained competitive throughout the mid-1980s. Boomer
Esiason replaced Anderson in 1985 and, like his predecessor, became one
of the NFL’s premier quarterbacks. Following a 4-11 win-loss record in
1987, Cincinnati finished the 1988 season with a 12-4 mark. Esiason won
the first of his two NFC passing titles and shared player of the year
honors with Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Randall Cunningham. Running
back James Brooks, wide receiver Eddie Brown, and tackle Anthony Munoz
also starred in the AFC’s top-rated offense. In the playoffs the Bengals
advanced to their second Super Bowl of the decade. Once there, however,
Cincinnati again lost to the 49ers when San Francisco scored a
In 1990 Cincinnati won its fifth division title. Esiason notched his
sixth consecutive 3,000-yard season, a club record. The Bengals won a
total of just 11 games from 1992 to 1994, and the team continued to
struggle for much of the rest of the 1990s.
1982 Super Bowl XVI Lost to San Francisco 49ers, 26-21
1989 Super Bowl XXIII Lost to San Francisco 49ers, 20-16
NFL History Guide