Author: Scott Gampfer, Associate Vice President for Collections & Preservation
The original Cincinnati Bengals professional football team was established as part of the American Football League in 1937. The AFL folded after the 1937 season, so the Bengals continued as an independent team until the formation of a new AFL in 1939. When that league folded at the end of the season, the Bengals joined yet another AFL in 1940. 1941 proved to be the Bengals last season. The original Bengals played their home games at Xavier University Stadium with a few at Crosley Field.
Pictured are two souvenir programs from the collection for Cincinnati Bengals home games in 1938. The program for the game with Boston points out that “The Shamrocks, like the Bengals, are a big time, independent pro team. They are affiliated with no league, but play the best pro teams in New England and annually take a jaunt through the west to take on the best available teams.”
With the skillful quarterbacking of “The Blond Blizzard” Owen and the tenacious blocking of “Socko” Wiethe, the 1938 Bengals were a tough team to beat. The average Bengal player in 1938 was about six feet tall and a little over 200 pounds.