There are only a few annual occasions where Bengals owner Mike Brown addresses the masses publicly. One is the team's kickoff luncheon, while a couple of others come with hirings and the occasional sit-down with media members. The latter occurred recently, as Brown spoke with Alex Marvez of FOX Sports.
It's an odd thing when Brown speaks, really. For a guy known a bit as a hermit, his responses to questions are often quite open and thoughtful, which contradicts many perceptions of the longtime owner and descendent of football lineage. Marvez asked Brown a range of topics, both historical and current, and the usually tight-lipped owner was happy to oblige.
Marvez began the interview asking Brown about this year's 8-1 team and their recent struggles in the postseason. About 2015, Brown said he's "pleased" and that they're a "solid team". Brown also used the cliched rhetoric of things going "week to week", in terms of how the team is approaching the rest of the season.
MARVEZ: You went into this season knowing this team had struggled in the playoffs the past couple of years but you kept things largely intact personnel-wise. What was the thinking behind that?
BROWN: We were a good team. We had been to the playoffs the past four years and five out of the last six. Yes, we haven't done well in the playoffs. Some of that was because we were just forming up around Andy. That was part of it. He was still learning. Some of it was injury. For example, last year we went over to Indianapolis and I think had one starting wideout. We were missing all kinds of pieces. Some of that, I give credit to the teams we played. They played better than we did. We need to do better ourselves if we can get to that point again this year. I'm not worried about it right now. I'm worried about just playing well enough to get back there.
Perhaps the biggest compliment Brown paid his current quarterback, Andy Dalton, was calling him "dependable". But, as is on the minds of both Bengals and Cardinals fans, especially this week, is Brown's sentiments on Dalton's predecessor, Carson Palmer. There have been so many rumors and conjectures as to what transpired in the conversations that led to Palmer leaving Cincinnati.
Carson Palmer recalls clashing with Mike Brown, moving on from Bengals
Seeing Carson Palmer revive his career with the Cardinals has been a good story, and even Bengals fans should appreciate it.
Some believed that the conversations were amicable, as to not create waves in the national media on a situation that was already tumultuous. When asked about Palmer by Marvez, Brown had some eye-opening comments about the situation.
MARVEZ: Speaking of the Cardinals, your former quarterback is playing there. Did you think you would be matching up with Carson Palmer four years after you traded him?
BROWN: That's what I told him at the time. We sat here in the office on a couple of occasions and argued about what the future should be for him and us. He was arguing otherwise whether he really believed it or not I rather doubt. But my argument then with him was, 'You're a top quarterback and you've got real productive years in front of you.' He would say to me, 'Oh, no. I'm all beat up. I'll be lucky to play another year or two,' which I didn't take to heart.
It worked out the way it did. I have an odd feeling for Carson Palmer. I like Carson Palmer personally. I did when he was here. I regret it broke apart the way it did. I don't want him to beat us any more than he wants us to beat him. I'm sure that will be in the back of his mind. But other than that, I wish him well. I think he is a great passer. He really is. He's a special passer, very accurate. I look at him play and I see the player that we had when he was here. When he's on and playing the way he can play, he is a big-time winning quarterback.
Interesting, no? While Palmer might have used the injury issues while he was with the Bengals as a ploy to back out of a situation he wanted out of, the quarterback wasn't really lying after all. Palmer missed 10 games last year because of a torn ACL--his second significant knee injury in his NFL career.
But, one of the most telling comments made by Brown was in response in the way he's changed his mode of operation. "The problem hasn't been staying with my convictions. The problem is that my convictions always didn't work (laughs)."