Eighty years ago, original Cincinnati Bengals played at Crosley Field

WCPOPublished: November 22, 2017
Published: November 22, 2017

Watch Hal Pennington, coach and founder of the original Cincinnati Bengals in 1937, reminisce about the early days of pro football in Cincinnati in this 1987 interview with WCPO's John Popovich. Those Bengals played in the American Pro Football League. Pennington brought college stars from all over the country to play at Crosley Field, home of the Reds, with a promise of a full-time job and $150 per game. Cincinnati responded, and fans turned out in the thousands to see teams from Boston, New York and Los Angeles. Pennington said a few newspaper writers suggested that fans pick the team name, but he didn’t like Cincinnati Elephants and other names they came up with. So he picked a name out of his mother’s kitchen. A Pennsylvania stovemaker, Floyd, Wells & Co., used the Bengal trademark. “I looked at the old range she had,” Pennington said, “and right on the range there was a picture of a big tiger with his teeth snarling and everything, but underneath it said, “Bengal.” And I said, ‘Bengal? What the hell is a Bengal?’” Decades later, Pro Football Hall of Famer Paul Brown would pick the same name for his American Football League franchise in the Queen City.

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