Lately I was having dinner with a man who was very impressed with himself, and he spent a lot of time showing off the items that he had amassed through his successful career endeavors to his dinner guests.
When I talk with such people I don’t have the heart to tell them that the reason they are well compensated in the way they are is to placate them from thinking outside the box, and to settle in their lives. The compensation is to purchase their very soul from the curiosity of personal growth and invention. So I often feel pity for such types, because down the bumpy roads of life, somewhere way down there at the end of that road will come the realization that they short-changed themselves and lived an otherwise eventless life of little fulfillment.
And while I politely placated the man’s proud achievements with my attention, my thoughts fell on the Cincinnati Bengals, because there were elements of this man’s character that I believe are extraordinarily similar to Mike Brown, the owner of the Bengals.
The similarity comes from the popular belief that just because someone may have success in the legal profession, as Brown has, or finance, as this man has, or in some other endeavor, the game of football requires the ability to think outside the box to have leverage over your opposition, and therefore requires that type of thinker to have success.
As this man showed me the features of his new car, my thoughts lingered on a Bengal game recently that told the whole story.
An arctic front had brought temperatures hovering in the teens to Paul Brown Stadium, a palace that is operating in tremendous dept, currently projected at nearly $700 million dollars by the year 2032. For the moment, the burden the palace has placed on the city of Cincinnati is forgotten because it’s the fourth quarter with just seconds to play, and the Bengals are beating the far superior team of the New Orleans Saints and the crowd is gripping their seats in ecstatic disbelief and hope.
But the Saints drive down the field and are in scoring position. Kick the field goal and the tie. Go for it on 4th down, and the Saints get a 1st and goal.
In an ultimate act of disrespect, the Saints go for it. They line up and Drew Brees does his hard count, and everyone’s fears in the world of Bengal Football were confirmed. The Bengals defense jumps offside’s. The penalty gives the Saints a first down.
The Bengals are a terrible franchise. They have had only a few winning years in the last 20 years, since Mike Brown took over the franchise from his deceased father. The first thing Mike did was fire Sam Wyche, a fiery, motivated coach that always had a chance to win. I loved Sam Wyche because he thought outside the box all the time. He always was competitive and it was fun to watch his teams play on the field. He went to the Tampa Bay Buccaneer organization and my loyalty followed him there.
The Bengals have been a terrible franchise since. In fact, as Marvin Lewis completes his contract at the end of the 2010 season, he is the fourth head coach since Wyche left, and none of the coaches have been able to take the Bengals consistently to a playoff game, let alone a Superbowl.
• Paul Brown (1968–1975)
• Bill “Tiger” Johnson (1976–1978)
• Homer Rice (1978–1979)
• Forrest Gregg (1980–1983)
• Sam Wyche (1984–1991)
• Dave Shula (1992–1996)
• Bruce Coslet (1996–2000)
• Dick LeBeau (2000–2002)
• Marvin Lewis (2003–present)
Rebuilding years are expected. For instance, the time between Forrest Gregg’s Superbowl appearance and Sam Wayche’s was five years, something at the time the Bengal fans thought was unacceptable. Nobody would have fathomed at the close of the 80’s that the Bengals would become a complete joke among professional sports circles and fans by the far off-year of 2010, and yet another head coach would be dismissed at the end of the season and another rudderless recruiting process would take place for another head coach.
So why are the Bengals so bad? They’ve had plenty of first round draft picks. Here’s just a couple.
David Pollack, 2005
Chris Perry, 2004
Peter Warrick, 2000
Akili Smith, 1999
Ki Jana Carter, 1995
Dan Wilkinson, 1994
David Klingler, 1992
If it was my team, and I had a tiger for a mascot name, I’d capitalize on that, but not the Bengals.
I was at another person’s home just the other day, and I saw a grill in the back of his townhouse, and I saw that he had a Bengal grill cover, and that “B”was on it. I felt sorry for the poor man. What a sap. He must be a real sucker to actually go out and buy that cover to support such a constantly bad team.
It’s one thing to support your favorite team, win-lose or draw. But the Bengals just make fools out of their fans, because they do not offer a product on the field that can actually win.
The Bengals under Mike Brown make emotional decisions based on arrogance and a belief that the answers are inside the box, within the rules of society. Their ego’s get in the way of understanding what it means to win. They hire “yes” man coaches, and insist on top down management. They have no recruiting and believe that money can buy them a good team.
The Bengals spent the money on Terrell Owens for the 2010 season without considering the impact Terrell might have on Palmer. The Bengals have three charismatic players that have their own TV shows, and two of those guys are their star receivers. Didn’t anybody in the Bengal organization think that there might be some chemistry problems on the field?
No. Nobody even addressed it, because they don’t have any real scouting and have very limited understanding of the value of leadership. The Bengals could have spent less money on someone like Terrell Owens and instead spent the money on scouting and brought in some really good, fundamental players that fit in the schemes of Palmer.
But no, the people who run the Bengal organization are the classic thinkers that material wealth can purchase leadership and victory. And they are noticeably confounded when all their effort only produces losses.
The way the Bengals could win would be to change their uniforms, and kick-start a change in culture. They need to hire a new coach that can run the whole show, someone like Jon Gruden. And they need a General Manager to allow the coach to worry about only coaching and promoting the team through the media.
However, in football, money does not always buy you victory. Ask Jerry Jones and his Dallas Cowboy problems. It takes heart and a desire to overpower and destroy your opponent.
The Bengals don’t inspire that kind of mentality with that stupid “B.” An emblem like that belongs on the chest of a high school cheerleader. Not the face of a great American city like Cincinnati.
I finished listening to the man flaunt his worldly possession like a small child displaying his boy scout merit badges, and my first instinct was to pat him on the head and say, “good boy.” But I didn’t, because somewhere in Mike Browns past, somebody placated his ego in a way that put this curse on Cincinnati called the Cincinnati Bengals. So all I did was sip my wine and go back in the house letting the guy revel in his temporary victories, and I didn’t want to ruin his Christmas with my piercing conviction that he was as clueless as Mike Brown.
The rest of the men stayed outside and continued to discuss sports stats and who had what, or what the next item they’d purchase would be. The sport stats were humorous as though they mattered and had an over-all impact on the ability to achieve victory. There are better things to think about, rather than the time that Mike Brown threatened to leave the city if Cincinnati did not build a new stadium for the team. An inept city government put themselves in debt to build the palace, and now the city is stuck with a huge bill and a terrible team to play in it. The Bengals are a lost cause and not worth the speech.