A new opening day to another National Football League season is upon us, but a familiar opponent looms for the Denver Broncos.
The Denver Broncos and Cincinnati Bengals have a long history, going back to when both teams were members of the American Football League.
The Broncos were charter members of the AFL and as such are celebrating their 50th season of play in 2009. While Cincinnati’s AFL history does not go back quite so far, the Bengals were the second expansion team in the AFL, joining the fledgling league in 1968 (the Miami Dolphins were the AFL’s first expansion franchise).
Paul Brown was the man behind Cincinnati getting a pro team, and his return to pro football included references to his earlier time with the Cleveland Browns—the “Bengals” nickname gave the Cincinnati team the same “CB” initials as the Cleveland Browns, and whereas the Browns wore orange and brown, the colors chosen by Brown were orange and black for his new team.
Another interesting note is that new Broncos Head Coach Josh McDaniels is returning to his own Ohio roots to coach his first game with the Broncos. This won’t be the first Ohio sellout Josh McDaniels has ever seen, as he regularly played before capacity crowds when he was quarterbacking Canton McKinley High School. The Ohio fan base is always at fever pitch.
Cincinnati actually posted its first pro football victory against Denver on September 15, 1968 — a 24-10 win in the Ohio city. But overall the Broncos have gone on to lead the series by a 16-8 margin that includes a 5-2 record in Denver’s favor when the two teams have opened with each other.
The Bengals did not always have tiger stripes on their uniforms and helmets—they began with a very traditional uniform featuring black jerseys, white pants, and orange trim on both, and the helmet had the word “Bengals” printed on the sides. This was probably one of the least creative helmet logos in the NFL, but then the franchise took a dramatic leap to one of the most colorful, with the addition of the tiger stripes that now instantly identify the Bengals’ uniform.
It is an oddity of the series that this is the 25th game ever between the two teams, and yet it is the eighth time they will have played each other on opening day.
One sure thing is that the fan interest will be huge, with the Broncos’ enormous fan base tuned in on television to watch the debut of the 2009 edition of the Denver Broncos.