CHANTILLY, VA - MARCH 02: Cincinnati Bengals owner Mike Brown arrives at a hotel fora meeting with NFL owners on March 2, 2011 in Chantilly, Virginia. The NFL owners are meeting in Chantilly to discuss negotiations with the players union about a collective bargaining agreement that expires March 3, at midnight. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
Bengals fans are fed up, and they should be fed up. It's been 20 years since Mike Brown has taken over the Cincinnati Bengals and in that time, our favorite team has gone to the playoffs twice, with no post season wins and had more losing seasons than winning ones.... a lot more.
That's not news. Long time season ticket holders giving up on the team and choosing not to renew their season tickets isn't news either. It's really not news when a long time season ticket holder sends an angry letter to the Bengals, specifically to Mike Brown, explaining why they won't be buying season tickets anymore. I think that happens a lot.
What is news, though, is when Mike Brown responds.
WhoDeyFans.com reported on Tuesday that one of their readers got one such letter from Mike Brown. In that letter, Brown apologized for the team's lack of success in 2010 but defended the team's achievements in the Marvin Lewis era.
"The 2010 season was of course a huge disappointment, and all of us in the organization must share the blame. We believed that we had strengthened ourselves since our 2009 division championship, with key new ingredients and not many pieces lost. But the year reminded us that every season is a new enterprise, and our 2010 pieces obviously were not close to coming together.
"But I will not apologize for our overall performance under Marvin Lewis. Under him we are among a minority of teams (14 of 32) to win two division titles in the last six years. You may scoff, and no one here would deny that we are long overdue for postseason success, but I still believe this means something toward a realistic forecast for 2011 and beyond. We are not a team devoid of talent, and I believe that continuity with Marvin as head coach offers the best chance to bring us back to and beyond our division championship level of 2009."
Mike Brown then went on to defend the Bengals in their two playoff losses in 2005 and 2009 and said that he believes the Bengals can be back in the post season in 2011. And, amazingly enough, he still made a point to say that the Bengals' relationship with Carson Palmer is not "unworkable."
"We must get better -- we know that -- but our playoff losses under Marvin have included one game in which Carson Palmer was injured and one game against the AFC team (Jets) that I believe has won more playoff games than any other the last two years. We lost both of them -- and 0-2 is 0-2 -- but I am not ashamed of our effort in either contest. And I believe we can be back in the playoffs this year.
"Regarding Carson Palmer, of course his expressed misgivings are an important matter. But off-season "situations" often can be resolved, and I am not willing to concede that our relationship with Carson is unworkable."
The original letter to Brown must have accused him of pocketing money that should be spent on players and of extorting taxpayers. Brown turned to those subjects next. He admitted that signing Antonio Bryant was a mistake, but he defended the signing of Bryant by saying that the Bengals were being aggressive. He also reminded the reader that the new Bengals and Reds stadiums went to a vote and was passed by a 10 percent margin. He said:
"Regarding your belief that we "pocket" money that should be spent on players, I ask you to consider this a a popular "theme" among critics that simply is not true. The record shows that we have been competitive in signing top-level players and spending to overall NFL limits for player salaries. This will not change. We have made personnel mistakes, such as the signing of Antonio Bryant last offseason, but that was due to aggressiveness rather than passivity. And when Antonio proved unable to play, we filled the gap with the pre-camp signing of Terrell Owens.
"Regarding "extortion" of taxpayers, I will say only that the voters approved the plan for new Bengals and Reds stadiums by a 10 percent margin."
Brown ended his letter very politely, by sending his best wishes and hoping that he can win back this particular fan in the future.
"I send my personal good wishes. I respect you as a consumer with limits on disposable income. I hope of course that you will remain a Bengals supporter in Seahawks territory, and if you don't, I hope we can win back your support down the road."
Mike Brown has proven to be a master of the written word. While I respect him for taking the time to send a personal letter back to a dissatisfied fan, I don't respect his ability to lead a football team to the Super Bowl.
You can read the letter in its entirety here.