Fast forward to 2010 and we find Head Coach Marvin Lewis in the final year of his contract after eight years with the team. It is no easy task to make the Mike Brown run Bengals into a success [see: 1991-2002] so anyone who thinks Lewis isn't crucial is dreaming.
But for once the chips are not on Mike Brown's side of the table. After a surprise 2010 playoff appearance and division championship, Lewis is in a position to make demands. Brown is a notoriously private owner, refusing to comment on negotiations with Lewis except to assure that they are ongoing. However it is widely assumed that Lewis would like more control over personnel decisions, if not the hiring of a General Manager not named Brown or Blackburn.
One nugget of negotiation that has emerged however (via James Walker of ESPN - the only ESPN journalist who has any clue about the Bengals) is that "an indoor practice facility appears to be one point of contention between Bengals ownership and . . . Lewis."
So the situation is eerily similar to the movie Field of Dreams. Mike Brown wants to honor his sports figure father's legacy (Paul Brown). He catches wind that good things will happen if he builds a field (the indoor practice facility). And if he builds it, they will come (good free agents, coaches, etc).
More accurately, if he builds it, he will stay. Surely Lewis will want more than just the indoor facility, but it would be an excellent start. Even if Lewis does not stay with the Bengals beyond the 2010 season, this is a step that still serves the long term interests of the team. Especially if the salary cap does not come back after this season, the Bengals will need to do everything they can to lure talent to remain competitive as one of the smaller market teams.
Enough useless talk already; Mike Brown, please just build the damn indoor practice field (of dreams).