As someone who has been a fan of the Cincinnati Bengals for over 30 years, I have obviously experienced my share of disappointment, frustration and all out misery. Yet like many of my fellow Who Dey'ers, I remain hopeful, thinking that perhaps things have finally taken a turn towards sustained success.
It has been about a year since I began writing about the Bengals, and one theme seems to come back at me over and over again when I receive feedback from other Bengals fans: nothing will change as long as owner Mike Brown is at the helm. Despite their loyalty, many fans have gone as far as boycotting games in order to send a message to Mike Brown that they are fed up with his focus on his own wallet over wins.
But is it possible that Mike Brown has changed, grown tired of losing, and a city that hates him? Is Mike Brown at long last in it to win it? Here are three reasons that may indeed be true:
Marvin Lewis is calling the shots.
Two years ago, our sideline looked like a torture chamber. Marvin Lewis and then quarterback Carson Palmer seemed to be in pain just having to be a part of the Bengals organization. Palmer made it clear he was done with the team, and many expected Lewis would be gone soon as well. He was clearly fed up with Mike Brown making decisions that seemed to tie his hands as a head coach.
And so there was surprise when it was announced that Lewis re-signed to continue coaching the Bengals. What had changed that would make him stay on? Though no public acknowledgement was made, it became obvious that Brown had granted Lewis control. Marvin Lewis was finally able to get rid of failing offensive coordinator Bob Bratkowski and bring in Jay Gruden in his place. Lewis seems to have gotten a second wind, as he has the opportunity to make things happen with his team the way a head coach should.
Mike Brown now has full ownership of the Cincinnati Bengals.
It was news to me that the Brown family did not fully own the Cincinnati Bengals, but as it turns out they purchased the 30 percent of the team they did not yet own just this past year for $200 million. This 30 percent had been previously owned by Austin Knowlton, who died in 2003. Perhaps the reason Brown has been a bit thrifty (to put it nicely) was that he had been holding on to cash to someday make this purchase.
Now that the Brown family owns virtually all the shares, they will make more money on TV contracts as well as any other profits that increase based on the success of the team. So even it is still all about the money for Brown, he has more incentive for the team to do well and bring in more cash.
Mike Brown is making fan friendly decisions.
Regardless of his motives, Brown actually seems to be making some decisions that encourage fans to come out and support the Cincinnati Bengals. Despite the notion that Brown doesn't care if people buy tickets because he makes money anyway, ticket prices were lowered for the 2012 season. And this is coming off a surprisingly successful 2011 season after which many fans were likely already excited to see the team play.
It was also a bonus for Bengals fans to have Training Camp moved to Cincinnati. Granted, other factors were at play in the move rather than the move being made just to please fans, but it was a real win-win situation. There was a lot more hoopla around Training Camp having it in town, including an alliance with the Cincinnati Reds encouraging people to take in a baseball game in conjunction with a stop at Paul Brown Stadium to check out the Bengals.
Only time will tell if Mike Brown has changed his stripes and is indeed motivated for success on the field; but I remain forever optimistic, because maybe, just maybe, this will be our year.
Kimball Perry, John Eradi, Joe Reedy, "Browns buy last big ownership stake in Bengals," cincinnati.com
Lisa Stewart is a married mother of two living in the suburbs of Cincinnati. Lisa is a die-hard Bengals fan and has faith the team's best days are ahead. Lisa looks forward to some day seeing the Bengals finally win it all.
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