The 1968 Cincinnati Bengals season was the team's first year in professional football. Paul Brown, who left the Cleveland Browns following the 1962 season with an NFL record of 115–49–6, seven conference titles, and three NFL championships, had the urge to get back into football. His son Mike Brown did a study on pro football expansion and recommended Cincinnati as a potential site. In 1965, Brown met with Ohio Governor James Rhodes and the two agreed the state could accommodate a second pro football team.
1966 – Fearful the Reds baseball team would leave town and feeling pressure from local businessmen pushing for a pro football franchise, Cincinnati's city council approved the construction of Riverfront Stadium.
1967 – Brown's group was awarded an AFL expansion franchise. Brown called the team the Bengals, the name of Cincinnati's pro teams in the old AFL of the late 1930s. The Bengals acquired their first player late in the year when they traded two draft picks to Miami for QB John Stofa.
1968 – The Bengals were awarded 40 veteran players in the allocation draft. In the college draft, they selected Tennessee center Bob Johnson as their first pick. The Bengals lost their first preseason game, 38–14, to Kansas City before 21,682 fans at Nippert Stadium. The Bengals upset Denver, 24–10, and Buffalo, 34–23, in their first two regular-season home games. Paul Robinson led the AFL in rushing with 1023 yards and was named Rookie of the Year.
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“Hence in a season of calm weather
Though inland far we be,
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Which brought us hither,”
—William Wordsworth (17701850)