WHO DEY: What’s the origin behind the famed Bengals rally cry?

Who Dey! Dayton area fans cheered on the Cincinnati Bengals to victory in the AFC Championship game over the Kansas City Chiefs in overtime with a score of 27-24 on Sunday, Jan. 30, 2022. The Bengals will face the Los Angeles Rams in Super Bowl LVI on Sunday, Feb. 13, 2022. Even though Tuty’s Bar & Grill in Beavercreek is a Browns Backers bar, they gave Bengals fans a warm welcome to watch the game complete with Bengals decorations. Did we spot you there? TOM GILLIAM / CONTRIBUTING PHOTOGRAPHER

Combined ShapeCaption
Who Dey! Dayton area fans cheered on the Cincinnati Bengals to victory in the AFC Championship game over the Kansas City Chiefs in overtime with a score of 27-24 on Sunday, Jan. 30, 2022. The Bengals will face the Los Angeles Rams in Super Bowl LVI on Sunday, Feb. 13, 2022. Even though Tuty’s Bar & Grill in Beavercreek is a Browns Backers bar, they gave Bengals fans a warm welcome to watch the game complete with Bengals decorations. Did we spot you there? TOM GILLIAM / CONTRIBUTING PHOTOGRAPHER

As the region gets ready to bleed orange and black on Super Bowl Sunday, you’ll be hearing countless calls of “WHO DEY!”

It’s the fan call heard far and wide whenever the Cincinnati Bengals are on the field. As Super Bowl LVI approaches, the origin of the “Who Dey” chant has left many fans scratching their heads.


We want to see your decked-out Cincinnati Bengals “man cave,” or your home, in all its Bengals glory! Send any photos of your Bengals pride to this reporter at sarah.franks@coxinc.com and we’ll include you in our Bengals pride gallery.


ExplorePHOTOS: Who Dey! Dayton area fans cheer on the Cincinnati Bengals to the Super Bowl!

We asked the Cincinnati Museum Center to help us out with this question and the answer was, well, not crystal clear.

“It seems that there is no clear answer as to where it came from,” said Cody Hefner, the museum’s vice president of marketing and communications. “Two things are generally suggested — (the chant is) a take on the Saints’ chant of ‘Who Dat’ or a take on the beer vendors at Riverfront selling Hudepohl and yelling ‘Hudy.’”

One thing that does seem to be universally accepted as true, according to Hefner, is that the chant first began appearing amongst fans in 1980 or 1981.

In the Jan. 25 edition of the Dayton Daily News in 1982, Bill Vale used the chant to begin his report after the Bengals lost the Super Bowl to the San Francisco 49ers.

“‘Who dey, who dey, who dey gonna beat da Bengals — next year, next year...’ went the chant of about 150 disappointed revelers Sunday night,” wrote Vale in his report.

No matter the origin, today it’s an unmistakable cheer for the Cincinnati Bengals — the adopted professional football team of Dayton. WHO DEY!

About the Author