WASHINGTON - MARCH 10: Mike Brown, owner of the Cincinnati Bengals, arrives, at the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service building March 10, 2011 in Washington, DC. Representatives from the National Football League (NFL) and National Football League Players' Association (NFLPA) continue to negotiate a labor dispute during a 7 day extension of talks. (Photo by Brendan Smialowski/Getty Images)
We know that Cincinnati's sell out against the Baltimore Ravens wasn't without some help. Fearing that the regular season finale against the Ravens on Sunday (that could earn Cincinnati a playoff berth) won't sellout, the front office announced a deal to season ticket holders -- and later suite holders and business partners -- that if fans by a ticket, they'll get a second for free. The Bengals declared that game sold out Wednesday morning.
There's a patriotic charge going through Bengaldom with armor twice as thick as the world's biggest blast doors. Chants of Who Dey are increasing and that Orange and Black pride, relatively quiet this season (not that it's surprising considering the preseason prognostications), are starting to reverberate.
It's why Gregg Doyel of CBSSports.com picked a bad weekend to hammer home the point against Mike Brown. Doyel writes:
In other towns, though, I imagine they're laughing at us in Cincinnati.
In other towns, they don't know. They can't. In other towns, they don't have Mike Brown playing puppet-master to their NFL team, their city, their reputation, their heart.
And Mike Brown is a lousy puppet-master. Give him one of those fancy marionettes with strings, and he'd accidentally choke the damn thing. As a businessman he's a success in a ruthless, impossible-to-fail way -- threatening to leave years ago and bullying Cincinnati into a stadium deal that the Wall Street Journal called "one of the worst professional sports deals ever struck by a local government."
But as a football man, he's incompetent and tone-deaf, a pitiable combination that means Brown has no idea how bad he is at his job -- or why Bengals fans are staying away. So let me put this into terms that all of you will understand, even the puppet-master himself:
Fans are staying away because of Mike Brown.
This is your fault, Mike.
This isn't to say that Doyel's posting isn't worth a read. It is. We suggest everyone to put aside a few minutes for a glance -- and this is coming from a writer (me) that's working hard to persuade the team to grant press credentials for more access.
But right now the timing was bad for Doyel.
The patriotism in Cincinnati is huge, with an insatiable demand to consume as much information about the game and Cincinnati's playoff chances. The story about selling out against Baltimore this weekend is over, the debates about Mike Brown's incompetence keeping people away has ceased for the moment. Fans want positive reinforcement about the team's chances to beat the Ravens and claim a wild card berth -- not rehashing a story that's been large in our minds for the past 21 years.
Playoffs are so rare, fans are going to bath in the moment, momentarily avoiding the sky-high feeling before it crashes back to the planet and Mike Brown is the one trying to pull us out the wreckage.
That being said, it's a read you should put in your bookmarks for another day.