Photo of a female Cincinnati Bengals fan holding up a Who Dey sign.

Image Credit: Tony Alter (CC BY 2.0)

If you're a fan of the National Football League, you've likely seen a variety of chants including "Who Dey" from Cincinnati Bengals fans. While few fans probably know the saying's origin, many seem to think that Bengals fans stole the saying from the New Orleans Saints or the LSU Tigers. Let's clear it all up once and for all.

The Cincinnati Bengals were founded in 1968 and enjoyed minimal successes until the 1980's. In the fall of 1981, the team got off to a hot start with a record of 4-2 through the season's first six games. Up next on the Bengals schedule were the mighty Pittsburgh Steelers who had won a string of Super Bowls throughout the 1970's. The Bengals demolished the Steelers by a score of 34-7 on October 18th, 1981. After losing the next game to the lowly New Orleans Saints, every single opponent on the Bengals' schedule thereafter had a winning record from the 1980 season.

After beginning the season 5-3, the Bengals went on to win all five of their games in November. The Bengals beat the Los Angeles Rams 24-10, the Houston Oilers 34-21 and the San Diego Chargers 40-17. The chant started after the game vs. the San Diego Chargers in November of 1981. Here is a link with a complete breakdown of statistics from the 1981 Cincinnati Bengals Season - Pro Football Reference.

I once met a Cincinnati Bengals fan who claimed to know the exact section the chant started in at Riverfront Stadium but I don't recall the section number. The chant gained a ton of momentum around the Tri-State area of Kentucky, Ohio and Indiana. It soon became the team's fight song and was first recorded by an employee of legendary local radio station 700 WLW.


"Hear the Bengal growling, mean and angry.

See that Bengal Prowling, lean and hungry

An offensive brute, run, pass or boot. And defensively he's rough! Tough!

Cincinnati Bengals, that's the team we're going to cheer to victory.

Touchdown Bengals! Get some points up on that board and win a game for Cincinnati!

Who Dey! Who Dey! Who Dey think gonna beat them Bengals? Who Dey! Who Dey! Who Dey think gonna beat them Bengals?

Noooooo Body!"


The last part of the chant can be traced back to a commercial shot by a Cincinnati area car dealership called Red Frazier Ford.

"Who's going to give you a better deal than Red Frazier? Nooo body!"

Local brewery Hudepohl also decided to capitalize on the Who Dey craze and came out with their own "Hu Dey Beer". Hudepohl brand beer can still be purchased in the area, particularly at Findlay Market in Over-the-Rhine. 

The Bengals entered the playoffs in January of 1982 and beat the Buffalo Bills and San Diego Chargers, both for the second time that season. The organization made it's very first Super Bowl in 1982 - Super Bowl XVI. Although they lost to the San Francisco 49ers by a score of 26-21, Bengals fans could see something special upon the horizon in Cincinnati. The Bengals returned to Super Bowl XXIV in 1989 only to face a familiar foe; Joe Montana and the San Francisco 49ers. The Bengals lost to the San Francisco 49ers but once again, the Who Dey chant gained national attention with the "Who Dey Rap". The song was recorded and performed by several Bengals players.

Flash forward to present day and meet the Cincinnati Bengals mascot. His name is Who Dey and he was one of the first mascots in the NFL. For the record, the New Orleans Saints' "Who Dat" chant did not start until 1983.

Photo of "Who Dey", the Cincinnati Bengals mascot.

Image Credit: IndyDina - Flickr (CC BY 2.0)



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