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Who is Dey? What Chiefs Fans Need to Know About the Bengals Chant Before Sunday’s Game

 

The Kansas City Chiefs are gearing up to take on the Cincinnati Bengals for the AFC Championship on Sunday.

This game marks the fifth consecutive championship game at Arrowhead Stadium’s GEHA Field, a record set by the then-Oakland Raiders in the 1970s and surpassed by the Tom Brady-led New England Patriots in the mid-2000s.

As the team plans a rematch from last year’s AFC Championship game, some Chiefs fans may remember happy Bengals fans leaving the stadium. Traveling fans chanted after Cincinnati defeated Kansas City 27-24 in overtime.

Choir:

“Who is Dey? Who is Dey? Who do they think will defeat these Bengalis?

“Who is Dey? Who is Dey? Who do they think will defeat these Bengalis?

“Nobody!” rang in the stadium and in the bars of Kansas City, but where did this singing come from and what does it even mean?

Here’s what you need to know about the Who Dey story.

WHEN DID IT START?

According to a past Sporting News interview with then-Bengals defenseman Ken Anderson, the iconic singing’s origins date back to the 1981 season. He said it started when the team finished the regular season 12-4 and finished 1st overall in the AFC, meaning they said goodbye in the first round.

“We were the No. 1 seed, so we had a bye week and played both playoff games at home,” Anderson told Sporting News. “It was the old Riverfront stadium, and that’s when Who Dey?” singing began. That’s when people started wearing orange and black wigs and painted their faces. Banners appeared at the stadium. It was electrifying.”

The fans sing it during the chorus and at the end of Cincinnati’s grounding song “The Bengals Growl”.

The singing disappeared for a while, but it returned in the 1988 season when the Bengals also finished 12–4.

WHAT IS THE ORIGIN?

One of the most popular origin stories of Who Dey? includes Cincinnati beer from the Hudepohl brewing company. Sporting News reported that vendors yelled “Hudy” outside the old Bengals stadium to sell beer, much like what you hear now on “Who Dey?”

According to the Cincinnati Enquirer, the rest of the chant may have come from a Red Frazier Ford of Cincinnati TV commercial. The dealership was closing at the time, but the ad had a catchy tune: “Who’s gonna give you a better deal than Red Fraser… nobody!”

CityBeat in Cincinnati reports that local city radio station WEBN-FM made the chant popular when program director Denton Marr grabbed several employees and recorded a version of it.

WAS THIS STOLE?

Football fans know about “Who Dey?” just like they know about “Who Dat?” which comes from the New Orleans Saints. Their full chant is as follows:

“Who is this? Who is this? Who said they were going to defeat the Saints?”

The chant of the saints originated in the 19th century and became popular among black artists in the region. A lawyer in Baton Rouge published an editorial in 2022 saying that the Bengals had taken the chant from the Saints.

“Who, who, who thinks he’ll beat those Bengals?” sounds like a cheap knockoff of our smarter – and grammatically correct – Who Dat cheer,” the editorial reads.

The Cincinnati Enquirer and CityBeat dispute The Advocate’s claim in their reports.

While fans may never know the true origins, Kansas City should be prepared to hear the chant as Bengals fans invade the city this week in preparation for the Chiefs to take on another AFC championship.

The Chiefs vs. Bengals kick off at 5:30 p.m. on Sunday. The winner advances to the Super Bowl on February 12th.

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