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Ah, it's the Super Bowl

Ah, it's the Super Bowl. The standard of sports entertainment. The dream of dreamers. The goal of marketing success. The rise of NFL legends. The ring that not only proves your success, but turns the key into the gates of the Hall of Fame.

Ah, it's the Super Bowl. It's the reason why Dan Marino comes up in conversation when listing great quarterbacks (and you know what I mean). It's why Joe Montana and Tom Brady are compared to each other. It's why the career of John Elway is so intriguing.

Ah, it's the Super Bowl. It's why Jim McMahon is so popular and why everyone smiles when seeing a defensive lineman, over 350 pounds, take the handoff and score a touchdown like a seasoned running back. It's the celebration of breaking barriers. It's a repository of legends and culminations of careers. It's the moment that players go from great to legend.

Ah, it's the Super Bowl with Stampede Blue and Windy City Gridiron.

Moving on.

This Super Bowl is breaking more barriers. But as Cold Hard Football Facts writes, color this game brown -- as in Paul Brown.

The "pundits" want you to believe that "black" is the color of Super Bowl XLI. The Cold, Hard Football Facts want you to know that the color of this Super Bowl, and almost every Super Bowl that has preceded it, is Brown – as in Paul Brown.

Paul Brown died almost 16 years ago. And he never coached in the Super Bowl. But his pigskin progeny have lorded over "America’s Game" nearly since its outset. They’ll do so again here in Super Bowl XLI.

Think of the greatest moments in Super Bowl history … and think of Paul Brown and his iconic old fedora.

  • Remember the Jets’ shocking win over the Colts in Super Bowl III? Paul Brown’s fingerprints are all over the game.
  • Miami’s undefeated 1972 season? Give a little credit to Paul Brown.
  • Pittsburgh’s four Super Bowl titles of the 1970s? Oh, look, Paul Brown.
  • San Francisco’s dynastic "West Coast" offense? Yup, Paul Brown.
  • Super Bowl XLI? Paul Brown. Paul Brown

Notice a trend?

Students of the Paul Brown School have won 18 of 40 Super Bowls. No matter which team wins Super Bowl XLI, it will be another victory for Brown’s legacy: Indy’s Tony Dungy and Chicago’s Lovie Smith both came up through the coaching ranks under students of the Paul Brown School.

And, if you choose to play the race game, you can think of Paul Brown, too.

After all, it was Paul Brown, the colorblind visionary, who reintegrated pro football in 1946 – a year before baseball’s Jackie Robinson took the field for the Dodgers.

A few months ago, I revisited Super Bowl XVI.

Mark Curnutte writes that the successful teams have a GM.

Teams with an executive between the coach and owner who makes personnel decisions are regulars in recent playoffs and the Super Bowl.

The seven teams (New England twice) in this and the previous three Super Bowls are run by a general manager or person with those responsibilities.

The Bears' Jerry Angelo, a 1971 Miami University graduate, has built a team that has won 26 games in the past two years and advanced to the Super Bowl in Lovie Smith's third year as coach.

The Bengals are just one of six NFL teams without a general manager or other individual with those unique responsibilities in the organization.

Besides Cincinnati, the clubs without a GM are Oakland, Washington, Minnesota, St. Louis and Dallas. Only Dallas, where owner Jerry Jones has final say on player personnel matters, made the playoffs.

Chick Ludwig makes the same points in his recent article that bloggers, discussion forums and general fans agree on -- this off-season will be the most critical to date for the Marvin Lewis era Bengals.

  • Do the Bengals sign Eric Steinbach?
  • Do the Bengals tag Justin Smith?
  • How to improve this defense? Do we go after free agents AND use the entire draft to rebuild the defense?

But Ludwig's point on middle linebacker is probably the biggest question mark this off-season.

  • What will happen with Odell Thurman?
  • Will Ahmad Brooks make the strides needed to be an impact player?
  • Should the Bengals go after London Fletcher? I think we should.