Tue Oct 18 12:29pm EDT
Mike Brown(notes) has owned and operated the Cincinnati Bengals for 20 years now, and in that time, I don't think I've ever heard anyone compliment him on a football decision. I don't believe this is because people are mean, I think it's just because Mike Brown has never made a good football decision.*
Which makes Tuesday a red-letter day. Brown could not have played the Carson Palmer(notes) situation better, and as a reward, the Bengals are the proud new owners of a couple of first-round draft picks.
Maybe "played " isn't the right word. Perhaps Brown simply made the decision that he wasn't going to trade Carson Palmer, and then accidentally backed into a situation where another team got really desperate and suddenly overpaid for Palmer. Maybe that's the case.
But it was still Brown who made the original call to not trade Palmer, when everyone in the world called him an idiot for doing so. Had Brown caved to the public pressure and traded Palmer back when he first stated his intention to sit out the season, the Bengals wouldn't have gotten nearly as much for him. In addition, future Bengal players would be more likely to see the Bengals as doormats who will let players dictate the terms of their own employment.
I've said all along that if it had been an organization like the Steelers or Packers who told a star quarterback that he could sit on his disgruntled heiney all year long, they'd have been praised as all that's right with football. They'd have been the hard-line, company-first heroes who don't let the spoiled prima donna athletes push them around. Brown, meanwhile, was a stubborn old man who was spiting his own team to stroke his own ego.
Let me be clear about this, though: This is a defense of Mike Brown's decision in this one particular case, not a defense of Mike Brown as an NFL franchise owner. He's still the guy who guided the Bengals to two winning seasons in 20 years. That's not OK, and this one situation redeems nothing. I still would not want him to own my favorite team. I would not want him to own a keychain with my favorite team's logo on it.
When a guy gets one right, though, he deserves praise for it. Especially if his last 20 years have been full of scathing criticism. Way to go, Mike Brown.
(*That's an exaggeration. I'm sure he has. I just can't think of one at the moment.)
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