Mike Brown: not as awesome as his father was. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
Outside of the Charlie Sheen's "goddesses" and maybe any of these people, Jack Brennan has the world's lousiest job. Each day poor Jack has to trudge into the office and think up ways to try to make the Cincinnati Bengals look good. As the team's public relations director, Brennan must be wondering why the lockout can't apply to him as well.
When two disgruntled brothers sent a bill of damages to the team for years of disappointment last month and the story gained national attention, Brennan was called in to put a shine on the collective Bengal turd:
"The basic message is we're going to be responsive, especially with season ticketholders," Brennan said. "We can't guarantee they'll be happy and, in the end, it's up to the fans to choose whether they'll renew their tickets.
"We value the loyalty of our season ticketholders," he said. "We know last year was a disappointing year and some fans are dissatisfied. We want them to realize we want to get better."
"We want to get better, but I don't know when that'll happen. We hope you keep buying tickets." Really, what more could the man say? And knowing the fanbase has been grabbing its lanterns and sharpening its pitchforks to drive the Frankenstein monster that is team owner Mike Brown out of the village, Brennan is attempting to calm the mob by reminding fans that Brown "helped bring the team to Cincinnati" and that he's "been involved in football all his life. His football background is deeper than much of the management in the NFL." A large part of that background is Mike's father and Bengal team founder Paul Brown, the subject of the newest "Who Dey Perspective" posted on the mothership. Introduced by Brennan, the piece is a suspiciously timed look at the "The Paul Brown Legacy." It ostensibly works to remind fans of the team's rich heritage, but it's hard not read into it a ploy to confuse the advancing mob with talk about the good ol' days.
As the first in a two-part series, the article largely covers Paul Brown's superlative achievements as founder/coach of the Cleveland Browns (although coming up with team names isn't one of them). I'm not old enough to have any first hand memories of Brown, but by all accounts he was a bad mother f-er (his wallet said so). He turned coaching into a science. He innovated offensive strategies. He put face masks on helmets. He found his way to Mordor and back. His early teams dominated.
His Cleveland Browns won the All-America Football Conference championship in every season of the league’s existence (1946-49). After joining the NFL in 1950, the Browns reached the championship game in seven of their first eight years, and they won the title in 1950, 1954 and 1955.
Only when other coaches began copying many of Brown’s procedures did their teams start catching up. Brown’s cumulative record over 25 years of pro coaching —222-112-9 (.660), including postseason—is one of the finest ever compiled.
Where have you gone, Paul Brown? Bengals nation turns it's lonely eyes to you.
While the historian in me applauds this parade of Brown's accomplishments as a healthy means of drawing links to the past and educating modern fans like myself, the cynic in me can't help but see an effort to distract me from the current team's problems. It also just makes me kinda bummed out, because when I contemplate the legacy of Paul Brown I can't help but think of Mike Brown. You're gonna have to work a little harder to make me forgot that, Jack.