Earlier this week we had planned a "this day in history" posting, dedicated to the anniversary of Pete Rozelle's announcement that Cincinnati would be awarded an AFL franchise, expanding a league as part of a merger agreement with the NFL. Essentially, it was the Cincinnati Bengals born-on date. During the project that we were researching, we came across several discrepancies from the widely published May 23rd date, when Cincinnati was awarded the franchise. Notably from the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
From our findings, Pete Rozelle had announced on May 23rd that no formal announcement was going to be made. However on May 25th, published reports described Rozelle's announcement on May 24th (which we detail here).
Joe Reedy with the Cincinnati Enquirer, and a Pro Football Hall of Fame voter, reached out to the Hall. The Hall of Fame told Joe:
"We have the date of May 23 as the day Cincinnati was granted a franchise. After checking the actual meeting minutes this seems to support that date as there were deliberations in the morning and afternoon and then a vote was held and the city was granted the franchise.
"It is true, however, that the announcement wasn’t made until the next day. Originally, it had been planned for a press conference on May 23 at midday but that was canceled and the announcement came the next morning according to newspaper accounts."
So according to the Hall of Fame, the final vote approved on May 23rd, awarding Cincinnati with a franchise. That announcement officially happened on May 24th.