Whether the two teams are good or bad, the battle of Ohio has always been one of the biggest rivalries in the NFL.
The connections between the Cincinnati Bengals and Cleveland Browns began when long time Cleveland head coach, Paul Brown, was essentially run out of town. This was when Brown decided to start his own franchise in Cincinnati.
Brown is the most notable connection between the two teams, and he played a huge part in the history of both franchises, and the NFL as well.
Fast forward to 2017 and the connections between the Bengals and Browns still run deep. Hue Jackson became a fan favorite in Cincinnati as the offensive coordinator. When he was in charge of the offense, it seemed like everything was clicking, most notably in the 2015 season.
Andy Dalton was having an MVP type year, and the Bengals offense was one of the better units in the league. Because of Jackson’s success as a coordinator, it was only a matter of time before he got another head coaching opportunity. In fact, Jackson was really close to landing the Buffalo Bills head coaching job before the 2015 season.
If it weren’t for Rex Ryan becoming available at the last minute, Jackson might be coaching the Bills instead of the Browns right now. However, that did not happen, and Jackson is the head coach of a divisional rival, which causes some mixed emotions among Bengals fans.
Most Bengals fans knew Jackson was set for a head coaching opportunity and I think most of them were hoping that opportunity came with the Bengals. It was reported that there was a "head coach in waiting" deal discussed between Jackson and the Bengals, but nothing ever came of it.
Soon after that, Jackson accepted the head coaching position with the Browns, and now we’re forced to root against him twice a year.
It’s not just Hue Jackson who left Cincinnati to make a home in Cleveland. Former Bengals first round pick, Kevin Zeitler decided to take the money as a free agent and play for the Browns. You can’t blame him, considering the Bengals made it clear they did not value him nearly as much as the browns do.
Zeitler was a really good player for the Bengals during his time with the team, and the Browns took notice. Let’s take a look at some of the other connections between the Browns and Bengals.
- Browns head coach Hue Jackson was offensive coordinator from 2014-15. He also had a stint with the team from ‘04-06.
- Bengals defensive line coach Jacob Burney was on the Browns staff from 1994-95.
- Browns tight ends coach Greg Seamon spent 13 seasons (2003-15) with the Bengals as a scout. He also coached at the University of Cincinnati from 1995-98 and Miami (Ohio) from 1999-2000.
- Browns defensive line coach Clyde Simmons played for the Bengals in 1998.
- Browns offensive line coach Bob Wylie coached at Ohio University from 1985-87, University of Cincinnati in 1996, and with the Bengals from 1997-98.
- Browns special teams quality control coach Stan Watson coached at Bowling Green State University from 2008-11 and Toledo from 2012-13
- Browns assistant defensive line coach Ken Delgado coached at the University of Louisville from 2008-09.
- Browns special teams assistant Shawn Mennenga coached at Western Kentucky University in 1997.
- Browns strength and conditioning coordinator Evan Marcus coached at the University of Louisville from 1998-99.
- Browns quarterback DeShone Kizer is from Toledo, Ohio (Central Catholic high School).
- Browns linebacker James Burgess Jr. played at the University of Louisville.
- Bengals tight end Mason Schreck is from Medina, Ohio (Medina High School).
- Browns CB Darius Hillary (practice squad) was with the Bengals for a short stint in 2016, and he attended Sycamore High School in Cincinnati. Also, he’s the son of former Bengal, Ira Hillary.
- Browns guard Kevin Zeitler played for the Bengals from 2012-16.
- Bengals RB Cedric Peerman had a brief stint with the Browns in 2009 before joining the Bengals.