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The Cincinnati Bengals are a professional American football team based in Cincinnati. The Bengals compete in the National Football League (NFL) as a member club of the league’s American Football Conference (AFC) North division. The club’s home games are held in downtown Cincinnati at Paul Brown Stadium.

Former Cleveland Browns head coach Paul Brown began planning for the creation of the Bengals franchise in 1965, and Cincinnati’s city council approved the construction of Riverfront Stadium in 1966. Finally, in 1967, the Bengals were founded when a group headed by Brown received franchise approval by the American Football League (AFL) on May 23, 1967. They began play in the 1968 season. Brown was the Bengals’ head coach from their inception to 1975. After being dismissed as the Browns’ head coach by Art Modell (who had purchased a majority interest in the team in 1961) in January 1963, Brown had shown interest in establishing another NFL franchise in Ohio and looked at both Cincinnati and Columbus. He ultimately chose the former when a deal between the city, Hamilton County, and Major League Baseball’s Cincinnati Reds (who were seeking a replacement for the obsolete Crosley Field) was struck that resulted in an agreement to build a multipurpose stadium which could host both baseball and football games. Due to the impending merger of the AFL and the NFL, which was scheduled to take full effect in the 1970 season, Brown agreed to join the AFL as its tenth and final franchise. The Bengals, like the other former AFL teams, were assigned to the AFC following the merger. Cincinnati was also selected because, like their neighbors the Reds, they could draw from several large neighboring cities (Louisville and Lexington, Kentucky; Columbus, Dayton, and Springfield, Ohio) that are all no more than 110 miles (180 km) away from downtown Cincinnati, along with Indianapolis, until the Baltimore Colts relocated there prior to the 1984 NFL season. 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 won the AFC championship in 1981, 1988, and 2021. After the first two conference championships, they lost to the San Francisco 49ers in Super Bowls XVI and XXIII. The 1990s and the 2000s were a period of great struggle. During that era they were occasionally referred to as “The Bungles” due to their struggles. Following the 1990 season, the team went fourteen years without posting a winning record, nor qualifying to play in the NFL playoffs. The Bengals had several head coaches and several of their top draft picks did not pan out. The team does not have an official general manager; however, owner Mike Brown handles the normal day-to-day operations a general manager would typically handle. In a 2011 survey, Brown was rated as among the worst team owners in American professional sports. The team’s fortunes improved in the mid-2000s, which saw them become more consistent postseason contenders, but they continued to struggle past the regular season. The turning point for the Bengals was during the 2021 season, when they won their first playoff game in 31 years and advanced to Super Bowl LVI, their first appearance in the Super Bowl in 33 years, where they lost to the Los Angeles Rams.

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