Cincinnati's Other Pro Football Teams

September 07, 2019 8 Comments

1937 Cincinnati Bengals

Big-time professional football arrived in Cincinnati in 1968 with the debut of the American Football League’s last expansion team, the Bengals. However, Cincinnati had hosted several other football teams before the Bengals took the field on that Sunday in September at Nippert Stadium. 

Cincinnati Celts

The city’s first pro team was the Celts who were established around 1910 , a semi-pro, independent team, that turned pro and played in the second season of the American Professional Football Association (APFA) in 1921. They opened that campaign with a 41 to 0 road loss to the Akron Pros. The following week, they bounced back against the Muncie Flyers, winning 14 to 0 in Indiana. The Celts played four more games, two against APFA opponents and finished with a record of one win against three losses. They returned to independent, amateur status in 1922 as the APFA became the National Football League (NFL). In 1923, the Celts folded.

Cincinnati Reds

Cincinnati joined the NFL in 1933 with the establishment of the Reds football team. That squad finished with three wins, six losses, and one tie. The Reds also played seven additional games against independent teams such as the Indianapolis Indians, St. Louis Gunners, and Memphis Tigers. 

In 1933, the team faced financial problems and made it through only eight games before ceasing operations. Their place on the schedule was taken by the St. Louis Gunners. 

Cincinnati Treslers and Cincinnati Models

In 1936, a minor league football circuit was formed called the Midwest Football League. It featured two clubs based in Cincinnati, the Models, who played at Northside Ball Park and the Treslers who played their home games at Elder High. The Treslers lasted only one season, while the Models soldiered on, changing their name to the Blades in 1938.

Cincinnati Bengals

Also in 1936, the second American Football League (AFL) was formed. Like the first AFL, which played only one season in 1926, it was a professional circuit that was set up to compete directly with the established NFL. In 1937, Cincinnati joined AFL II with a new team called the Bengals. The league folded after that season, though. 

Here’s where it gets a little confusing. In 1938, the Blades joined a semi-pro league also called the American Football League, while the Bengals played on as a professional independent team. Then, in 1939, the Bengals joined that league which reformed as the third AFL in 1940. That league went out of business after the 1941 season in the wake of the attack on Pearl Harbor and the entry of the U.S. into World War II. That left Cincinnati without pro football for the next 27 years, until a former NFL coach and the governor of Ohio began the effort to change that.

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