A Bengali connection on display at the NFL this weekend
Ahead of the NFL Conference Championships, we take a look at this interesting Indian connection that has doubled up as a sporting identity of a prominent American city.
If Indians needed a reason to connect with the NFL, they have one right here. Over the past few months, one team has stood out in the US for its exceptional performances in the National Football League. The Cincinnati Bengals have been exemplary since the NFL season began and have made it to the NFL Conference Championships. They will now face off against the Kansas City Chiefs on 31st January.
Amongst all of this given information, the only word that probably stands out for Indian sports fans is 'Bengal'.
In 1967, NFL coach Paul Brown was tasked with forming a team to represent Cincinnati. Incidentally, Cincinnati had been represented earlier in the mid-1930s by a team called Cincinnati Bengals. This was exactly why Paul Brown chose to stick with the name 'Bengals' in order to retain the identity of the team and the city in the NFL.
There are many disputed theories behind why the team from the '30s had been named and referred to as the Bengals in the first place.
There are two main theories that have been narrowed down to on this. The first is that the team colours which were originally chosen - a combination of orange, black, and white - were evocative of the colours on the fur of a Royal Bengal Tiger.
The other reason is that the Cincinnati Zoo was the only zoo in America that actually had a Bengal Tiger in one of its enclosures. This was a major attraction in the city and also became famous across the country given how exotic a tiger was considered to be back then. The city's 'football' team thus had no qualms in associating their name with the tiger in the zoo, for which the city was anyway famous for.
Over time, the 'Bengals' have established their identity as a team to be reckoned with. They even have a tiger as a mascot named 'Who Dey', something that is quite apt for their team as a whole. With 2 Conference Championships and 10 divisions Championships, they will be looking to claim their first-ever League Championships soon.