The Cincinnati Bengals and the Cleveland Browns have a lot in common. They both play in the state of Ohio, they have the same initials and when the Bengals first came into existence the teams had similar colors and uniforms.
The other thing both franchises have in common is Paul Brown.
After being fired as head coach of the Cleveland Browns in1962, a position he had held for 17 years, Brown founded the Cincinnati Bengals. The franchise joined the American Football League in 1968.
The NFL pioneer, who was elected into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1967, was not impressed by the AFL. Brown once quipped, "I didn't pay ten million dollars to be in the AFL."
However, he joined the upstart league after receiving a guarantee that the Bengals would join the NFL when the leagues merged in 1970.
The Bengals play in the AFC Central along with their arch rivals the Browns. The Pittsburgh Steelers and the Baltimore Ravens, the other two teams in the division, are also rivals. The franchise plays their home games at Paul Brown Stadium.
In their forty plus year history the Bengals have made the playoffs just eight times. They have played in two Super Bowls, both in the 1980’s, and loss both times to the San Francisco 49’ers.
Quarterback Ken Anderson led the Bengals to Super Bowl XVI, played at the end of the 1981 season. The team was trailing 20-0 at halftime. In the second half they made it interesting but still lost, 26-21.
Anderson was a four time Pro Bowler known for being a steady and efficient quarterback. His failure in the Super Bowl is probably why he’s not in the hall of fame.
The Bengals returned to the Super Bowl following the 1988 season (Super Bowl XXIII). This exciting game featured 49’ers quarterback Joe Montana throwing a touchdown pass to wide receiver John Taylor with 34 second left in the game. The Bengals lost a heartbreaker, 16-12.
The Bengals quarterback during that game was Boomer Esiason. The 1988 NFL MVP led the Bengals to two AFC Central division titles. Esiason finished his 14-year NFL career (9 with the Bengals) with 247 touchdowns and 37,920 passing yards. He’s still waiting for his call from Canton.
Perhaps the greatest Bengal player of all-time is offensive tackle Anthony Munoz. The former USC Trojan was the first career Bengal to be enshrined in to the Pro Football Hall Of Fame. He was three-time Offensive Lineman of the Year and was named to 11 consecutive Pro Bowl teams.
Due to Brown’s penchant for signing smart players, several Bengals have gone on to achieve success as broadcasters. These players include Cris Collinsworth, Bob Trumpy and Esiason.
Brown died in 1990 and the ownership of the Bengals transferred to his son Mike Brown. While Paul Brown was one of the greatest football minds of all-time, Mike Brown is one of the worst.
Since taking over the team in 1991, the Browns have gone 101-186-1 (.351) in the regular season and are just 0-1 in the postseason. Six times under Mike Brown the Bengals have started 0-6 and four times the team has started 0-8. Of the Bengals 101 wins, 71 have come when the team has been mathematically eliminated from the playoffs.
Mike Brown has made some of the worst draft picks in NFL history. In 1992, he selected quarterback David Klinger with the sixth overall pick. In 1995, he selected Ki-Jana Carter with the first overall pick in the draft. Finally in 1999, he selected University of Oregon quarterback Akili Smith with the third overall pick. All three players turned out to be unmitigated busts.
The bad decisions don’t stop there. In 1994, Mike Brown selected defensive tackle Dan Wilkinson with the first pick in the NFL draft. While Wilkinson was decent, especially after leaving the Bengals, he never had a season one would expect from a player drafted number one overall.
The Bengals are one of only five NFL franchises that doesn’t employ a general manager. Fans, especially those at MikeBrownsucks.com, constantly implore the notoriously cheap Mike Brown to hire one.