Mike Brown has been the owner of the Cincinnati Bengals since his father, Paul Brown, died in 1991. He has been the owner for the majority of most fans’ memories, and Brown recently talked about his legacy very candidly.
“I wish we had won more games,” Brown told Laurel Pfahler of Dayton Daily News. “That will forever be something that disappoints me, but I have to accept it is where it is. I hope that I will have enough time to see a spurt here that will be enough to energize our fan base, get them excited. We know we have to reach out to them to get them to buy in and get them back with us. We disappointed them. You can’t do that as often as we have done. We are paying a price for that. We have to turn it around. If that happens, I’ll leave the stage feeling fulfilled.”
He really hit the nail on the head. To try and call Brown’s tenure as owner a success is a pretty big stretch. The Bengals are 186-259-3 during his time as the owner. In his 28 years, Cincinnati only has seven winning seasons, each of which resulted in a Wild Card loss. The first of which didn’t come until 2005. This doesn’t look any better when you consider that Brown has functioned as the lead decision maker for most of his time as the Owner (up until recently).
To Brown’s credit, he did admit he was wrong this offseason when he fired Marvin Lewis, who had been the head coach for over 15 years, after re-signing him to a two-year contract the year before. This made way for the Bengals to seemingly enter the new era of football and hire Zac Taylor as their head coach.
Taylor had just spent two years on the Rams’ staff under Sean McVay, who has been widely considered one of the brightest minds in the NFL. Hiring Taylor has been a decision Brown has been happy with so far.
“He’s very composed, he’s a very bright young man, he loves what he does,” Brown said. “He works hard. He loves ideas. He can present them in a way that works. People accept what he says. He’s confident. I think he’s a good package and that it will have a good result.”
With such a drastic difference in backgrounds between Lewis and Taylor, it isn’t surprising that changes are coming. Those changes won’t be limited to scheme either but the way the team runs as well. These are things Brown has high hopes for paying off quickly.
“They meet differently, they practice differently, they emphasize different things,” Brown said. “They have a totally new and different way to call plays. It is stunning to me how different all this is, and maybe that’s a good thing for us to have this jolt. It’ll energize the people in the building from me down to whoever hands out the socks and jocks. We’re all asked to do it a little bit differently.”
It is just nice to hear Brown talk very openly about these changes, and it is also nice to hear him admit that something that may go against his conventions of NFL football could be beneficial to the Bengals in the long run.
The NFL is clearly headed in a direction that will leave it unrecognizable to the game teams were playing five or 10 years ago, and this has always been a league that forces teams to constantly adapt or be left in the dust. Nothing against Lewis, but it had become very apparent that he wasn’t adapting quick enough to the times, and blowout losses to teams like the Chiefs and Saints last season were proof of that.
We will have to wait and see how well Taylor’s tenure with the Bengals’ starts of, but it is clear that the 84-year-old Brown has started to embrace the idea of change.
Hopefully, his legacy ends on a bright note.