Cincinnati Bengals Uniform History

The first Cincinnati Bengals uniforms were virtually hand-me-downs from the Cleveland Browns. How is this possible?

When Browns’ owner and future Baltimore Ravens owner Art Modell fired Paul Brown prior to the 1963 NFL Season, he still owned the rights to the equipment. So, upon starting the Bengals back in 1968, Brown simply used his orange helmets and changed the jersey color from brown to black, continuing the same basic striping patterns the Browns were known for.

Let’s take a closer look into this team’s amazing uniform history.

Related: Cincinnati Bengals Team Profile 

1968

As stated, the Bengals’ first uniforms consisted of nothing more than a plain, orange helmet with gray facemasks and the typeface ‘BENGALS’ across the shells.

The black home jerseys held white numbering, a white-orange-white sleeve pattern, white pants with a thin black-orange-thin black trim, black socks with the white-orange-white pattern, and black shoes.

The white roadies had black numbering, a black-orange-black striping pattern, white pants, the same trim as the home pants, white socks with black-orange-black striping, and black shoes.

The Bengals actually had a different striping pattern during the preseason.

1969

The Bengals used thicker black trim on the pants stripes for select games.

1970

The Bengals returned to the thinner black stripe.

1974

The team modified their sleeve stripes. They also switched to wearing white shoes.

1975

The Bengals used their white socks with the orange-black-orange pattern for the season.

1980

The Bengals switched to black facemasks. Also in 1980, the team added TV numbers to the sleeves. They were the last team in the NFL to adopt TV numbers.

1981

The team underwent their first major redesign. The ‘BENGALS’ script was replaced with the now-familiar tiger-striped helmet. The black jerseys still had white numbers, but they were now outlined in orange. The vertical shoulder stripes were also tiger-striped.

The white pants held the same tiger striping pattern and the team adopted orange socks.

Shop Cincinnati Bengals at Fanatics: Cincinnati Bengals

The road uniform was virtually the same as the home, except the white jerseys featured black numbering with orange outlines.

1988

The Bengals made a strange adjustment in 1988; slicing their socks on both the home and road uniforms. Click here for a closer look. I’m sure this was intentional, however, I can’t find a source stating the motivation behind this.

1994

The Bengals wore throwback uniforms to commemorate the NFL’s 75th Anniversary in Week Three.

1995

The team reverted to normal-looking socks.

1997

The Bengals introduced the leaping tiger logo, which they placed at the sleeves, moving the TV numbers to the shoulders. The striping pattern on the jerseys and pants become more pronounced. The team added a black stripe to the base of their sleeves and switched to black socks. The collar on the road jerseys was now black. Take a look at the changes here and here.

Related: History of the Cincinnati Bengals Jersey

1998

The team mixed up the striping pattern on their pants again.

2000

Another minor change to the stripes.

2003

The Bengals experimented with black on black. Here’s a better look.

2004

The Bengals made their first radical redesign in 21 seasons. The familiar helmet remained, but the black jerseys now featured white side panels, round white numbering with orange drop shadow, an orange collar, a new ‘B’ logo at the chest, and orange sleeve panels with tiger stripes. The pants now featured a truncated tiger striping and were either black or white, depending on the week. The team reverted to black shoes and used either orange or black socks.

The white jerseys now had black numbers with the orange drop shadow. Rather than simply sleeve panels, the whites had shoulder panels and no side panels. The TV numbers were white with black drop shadow. The collar was also black. These uniforms could also be paired with black or orange socks, as well as white or black pants.

Related: Cincinnati Bengals Logo History

The third jerseys were orange, featuring white side panels, white numbers with black drop shadow, no sleeve or shoulder panels, with white TV numbers at the shoulder. It also featured a black collar and in 2004, was paired with black pants, with white being an option as well as orange or black socks.

Click here for the black on black image. Black on white. White on black. White on white. Orange on black.

2005

The Bengals debuted the orange on white look.

2016

Along with the rest of the NFL, the Bengals adopted a Color Rush uniform. Their version is a nod to the white tiger, featuring white jerseys, black numbering, black and white striping at both the sleeves and pants, and white socks. The only trace of orange on the look is at the chest, where the ‘B’ logo resides.

Sports Memorabilia: Shop for Authentic Autographed Cincinnati Bengals Collectibles at SportsMemorabilia.com

 

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6 comments

  1. I’m not a football fan and don’t really know much about uniforms, but I found this interesting.  To think when the Cincinnati Bengals started they had hand-me-down uniforms.  You probably don’t see much of that no a days.  It’s interesting how the changes to the uniform happened over all those years.  The colors never altered always staying with black, white and orange.  Interesting read.

    1. You actually never see it these days – but back in the 1960s times were far different. These days, initial preparation for the uniform takes place 2-3 years prior to a change or an initial unveiling. It’s a long process that the NFL undergoes. 

  2. Hi Todd! My husband and I are both fans of the Cincinnati Bengals. But my hubby is way more into football than me, LOL. I know that he would appreciate a little present so I’m here to see what catches my eye at the FansEdge shop. Would you have any suggestions? What would you like to receive as a present? Sorry for asking but I would appreciate the help.

    1. Well, for me I’m always a backwards hat and tank top kind of guy. Unless you wanted to buy him a collectible, so I’d definitely go with a mini-helmet or heck, even a full-sized one if there’s room for it! I’m actually starting my own collection of mini-helmets for all thirty-two franchises. Can’t wait to dig in, myself. 

    1. More power to you. Unfortunately, with Nike ruling the NFL landscape with an exclusivity deal it’s highly unlikely to find anything American made when it comes to Nike. I do know from looking at examples jerseys are made in Honduras. That’s from this sitethis site here.

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