Brown named the team the Bengals in order "to give it a link with past professional football in Cincinnati." Another Bengals team existed in the city and played in a previous American Football League from 1937 to 1942. The city's renowned zoo was also home to a rare white Bengal Tiger. However, possibly as an insult to Art Modell, Paul Brown chose the exact shade of orange used by his former team. He added black as the secondary color. Brown chose a very simple logo: the word "BENGALS" in black lettering. Ironically, one of the potential helmet designs Brown rejected was a striped motif that was similar to the one featuring the "varicose pumpkin" helmets adopted by the team in 1981 and which is still in use to this day; however, that design featured orange stripes on a black helmet which were more uniform in width.
There was also a complication: the Major League Baseball Cincinnati Reds were in need of a facility to replace the antiquated, obsolete Crosley Field, which they had used since 1912. Parking nightmares had plagued the city as far back as the 1950s, the little park lacked modern amenities, and New York City, which in 1956 had lost both their National League teams, the Dodgers and the Giants to Los Angeles and San Francisco, respectively, were actively courting Powel Crosley. However, Crosley was adamant that the Reds remain in Cincinnati and tolerated worsening problems with the Crosley Field location, which were increased with the Millcreek Expressway (I-75) project that ran alongside the park.
With the completion of the merger in 1970, the Cleveland Browns were moved to the AFL-based American Football Conference and placed in the AFC Central, the same division as the Bengals. An instant rivalry was born, fueled initially by Paul Brown's rivalry with Art Modell.
For their inaugural season they played at Nippert Stadium which is the current home of the University of Cincinnati Bearcats. The team finished its first season with a 3-11 record, although one bright spot was running back Paul Robinson. Robinson rushed for 1,023 yards and was named the AFL Rookie of the Year.
Founder Paul Brown coached the team for its first three seasons, accumulating 15 wins and 27 losses and one tie. One of Brown’s college draft strategies was to draft players with above average intelligence. Punter/wide receiver Pat McInally attended Harvard and linebacker Reggie Williams attended Dartmouth College and served on Cincinnati city council while on the Bengals’ roster. Because of this policy, many former players were highly articulate and went on to have successful careers in commentary and broadcasting as well as the arts. In addition, Brown had a knack for locating and recognizing pro football talent in unusual places.