Perhaps you’ve noticed all the change around the Cincinnati Bengals.
New uniforms are set to be revealed. More fan engagement on social media. Leaked pics of a ring of honor. Exciting prizes for season-ticket holders. A team vision statement that is sympathetic and reflects fans’ aspirations. A stronger connection to the community.
All of that can be—to a large extent—attributed to Elizabeth “Burnie” Blackburn, the granddaughter of Mike Brown and the club’s Director of Strategy and Engagement.
She’s young, smart, and get this... she cares about winning! She’s a super fan of the Bengals who made her name away from the franchise and returned because she was actually qualified, not nepotism. And she came back to Cincinnati for the purpose of bringing her family’s franchise into the 21st century.
So far, she’s done a great job.
The Bengals now have one of the strongest presences on social media of all NFL teams. This just two short years after they had the mascot Who Dey stroll around on a scooter to reveal the schedule.
The team has also gone from owner Mike Brown telling players not to kneel to taking a stand on social justice, uniting—including Mike Brown—in front of the National Underground Railroad Museum to read a powerful statement. The team—spearheaded by Elizabeth—then decided to work alongside BlaCk OWned, a Cincinnati-based clothing company that supports Black businesses, in creating custom Bengals apparel.
Before she joined the front office, Elizabeth, called “Burnie” by co-workers, was known as an analytical “ball of energy” who defended Bengals players and the city of Cincinnati with gusto. At Dartmouth, she was a double major in Economics and Engineering, producing research that evaluates the economic tradeoffs of the 85 percent blackout rule vs. secondary pricing market (Economics) and an app that teaches fans the rules of the game (Engineering). She then worked in the NFL office on the salary cap and then made her name in collective bargaining.
In other words, Elizabeth, who is only 28-years-old, has the smarts and the knowledge to do more than just get us excited about watching our favorite team. She is what the franchise badly needed. She is the future. She is the chosen one.
In short, it’s time to Feel the Burn.
Former Saturday Night Live cast member and huge Bengals fan Luke Null joined me and John Sheeran to talk about Elizabeth. You can watch below:
You can also listen on iTunes or using the player below.