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The Cincinnati Bengals are a professional American football franchise based in Cincinnati, Ohio. They are currently members of the North division of the American Football Conference (AFC) of the National Football League (NFL). Their home stadium is Paul Brown Stadium in downtown Cincinnati. Their current head coach is Marvin Lewis. Their primary colors are orange and black. Their chief rivals are the Baltimore Ravens, Cleveland Browns and Pittsburgh Steelers.
The Bengals were founded in 1966 as a member of the American Football League (AFL) by former Cleveland Browns head coach Paul Brown. 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 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 due 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, KY; Columbus, Dayton and Springfield, OH; and Indianapolis, IN) that were all no more than 110 miles away from downtown Cincinnati.
The 1990s and the 2000s were a period of great struggle. The Bengals had several head coaches and several of their top draft picks did not pan out. Mike Brown, the team's de facto general manager, was rated as among the worst team owners in American professional sports. Compounding matters were off-field problems of several players, notably receiver Chris Henry, who was suspended several times during his short professional career and was actually released by the Bengals at one point, but was then re-signed for the 2009 season.