Today in Sports History [5/24]: The Bengals and Paul Brown
On this day in 1967, the American Football League (AFL) granted a franchise to the Cincinnati Bengals, led by a Paul Brown Cincinnati-based ownership group.
As both the founder and head coach of the Cleveland Browns from 1946 to 1962, Brown led his team to seven championships and a winning percentage of .759.
In 1961, Brown sold most of his share of the team to Art Modell, who later fired Brown in 1963. Brown would never let this go, as he vowed to oppose the AFL for the rest of his career.
Brown got another chance at running a professional franchise in 1966 when James Rhodes, then mayor of Ohio, began discussing a second football team for the state.
Because another Bengals team existed in the city from 1937 – 1942, Brown decided to name the new Cincinnati team the Bengals “to give it a link with past professional football in Cincinnati.”
There was just one more thing for Brown to do. He was clearly not a supporter of the AFL, once saying that “I didn’t pay ten million dollars to be in the AFL.” He only agreed to joining the AFL when he was given a guarantee that the team would become an NFL franchise after the two leagues merged.
I think the first thing I should tell you is that by way of ownership and total operating control I am the man you must deal with. In the final analysis, there is no other. I don’t say this in the spirit of bragging or bulldozing somebody – and I don’t want to think or act like a hard man. I would like to earn the thought from you that I am just and understanding – but you must know from the beginning that there is no way to circumvent the principles on which I stand. - Excerpt from Coach Paul Brown’s opening address of Bengals’ training camp July 15, 1973