The announcement of the Cincinnati Bengals’ Ring of Honor was long overdue, but not to team owner and president Mike Brown.
We don’t hear very much from the 85-year old son of Paul Brown. Throughout the years, we’ve heard bits and pieces about plans to honor former Bengals, but nothing was ever substantial enough to warrant hope for the matter. But once Mike’s granddaughter Elizabeth Blackburn entered the scene, things started to change.
In a rare appearance on the Bengals Booth Podcast with Dan Hoard, Brown reflected on memories of all 17 Ring of Honor nominees. At the end of the conversation, he expanded on what the long-awaited process has meant to him, and how much of it was because of Elizabeth.
“Oh the public wants it,” Brown said. “On a personal level, my granddaughter who works for us now, Elizabeth [Blackburn], she’s pretty keen on what the public wants, she told me so. So we’re going to go forward with this. I might’ve had thoughts about why it might wait for later, but we’re going forward and the public has reacted very well. They appreciate the fact that we’re going to have it and the old players like it.”
Blackburn has said that Brown wanted to honor his former players the right way, and he wasn’t positive that a traditional Ring of Honor would accomplish that. That said, the response he’s received from former players has made the biggest impact on him since the process began.
“That’s the part that has meant the most to me,” Brown said. “They really perked up their ears when this started. They want to be involved with it. It is something that gets their interest. So we’ll try to do it right. I think it’ll be well received. We’re going to make it a process that goes on for a number of years and we’re gradually going to build up the players who are included as the years go on, but it’ll be fun as we go through it.”
Only two of the 17 nominees are going to be voted in this year. Clearly, there will be names worthy of induction for many years to come, which is a clear objective for Brown and his family. Instead of putting several names in right now, the process will sustain an exclusivity factor to it, which should also keep interest level for many years as well.
Brown’s affection for his players has always been there, it just hasn’t been easy to see. Bringing back Bengals legends and honoring them the way they deserve to be will better help that narrative.
Voting for the Bengals’ Ring of Honor inaugural class begins Monday, May 24th.