Cincinnati Bengals: What does ‘Who Dey’ mean?

Ken Anderson, Cincinnati Bengals. (Photo by Focus on Sport/Getty Images)
Ken Anderson, Cincinnati Bengals. (Photo by Focus on Sport/Getty Images) /

When Cincinnati Bengals fans regularly use the phrase “Who Dey?”, that means good things are happening with the AFC North franchise.

The rallying cry of Cincinnati Bengals fans has been “Who Dey?” for several decades now.

This is more than a phrase for Bengals fans, it is a way of life. It stems from a well-lubricated rhetorical question of, “Who dey, who dey, who dey think gonna beat dem Bengals?!” Often connected to the New Orleans Saints’ “Who Dat?”, the origin story of “Who Dey?” dates back to the 1970s in Cincinnati, but it really took flight during the team’s first Super Bowl run in 1981.

Perhaps most importantly, the phrase might have been coined from ordering local beer at games.

Cincinnati Bengals: What does “Who Dey?” even mean?

While nobody can agree on where the phrase comes from, it has its earliest roots to Xavier Muskteers basketball games in the 1970s. Though college hoops has always been important to Queen City, where “Who Dey?” really took flight is around the time Ken Anderson and his epic dad ‘stache ran the West Coast offense to perfection during his 1981 NFL MVP season for them.

One of the best urban legends is “Who Dey?” comes from a local beer. Hudepohl Brewing regularly had its beverages sold at old Riverfront Stadium and across the city. Hudy or HuDey was often a shortened form of the beer, which sounds very close to “who they?”. As it goes with anything, winning brings to the national forefront things of this nature. That was 1980s Bengals football.

While nobody can agree on where “Who Dey?” comes from, it is entirely a Bengals way of life.

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