You can be anything you want, as long as you work hard enough to make it happen.
A Middletown, Ohio resident in his mid-20s named James Brown wanted to be a part of the Cincinnati Bengals, and no one has put in more work from outside the organization to make that happen. 51 years later, the Bengals have remained in Cincinnati, and Brown has seen (almost) all of it in person.
The Bengals were playing at Nippert Stadium? Brown was there. Riverfront Stadium? He was there. Paul Brown Stadium? You bet.
“You couldn’t help but appreciate the spirit that he brings,” explained Bengals head trainer Paul Sparling. “And I think as a result that’s how he kinda just worked his way in.”
Only twice did Brown miss a Bengals home game in the team’s history. And when he couldn’t travel for a road game, they could always count on him greeting them at the airport, win or loss, 4 p.m. or 4 a.m.
Brown’s clout in the organization has reached the highest level possible for a fan. He’s been on the sideline and in the locker room since long before this writer was born, and every player who has ever played for the team knows who Brown is. How could they not? His dedication earned him near-omnipresent status with the franchise.
And how many fans can say they had the founder of the team call him a good friend? A signed book from Paul Brown remains one of the most special items Brown has kept and collected throughout the years of fandom he’s perpetuated.
“He was just the one that really, really did it for me.” Brown said about the legendary founding owner.
Through thick and thin, Brown has been by the team’s side, and now, he’s received the spotlight he deserves with his own feature on tonight’s NFL Network broadcast. The Bengals will honor the team’s 1988 Super Bowl squad before the game, and Brown belongs in the history of the franchise in his own way. After 51 years, it’s about time he’s got his due.