If you haven’t had the pleasure of hearing former Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Tim McGee espouse his thoughts on football, his previous employer and other topics, then you’re in for a treat.
The hyper-intelligent pass-catcher now covers the team for 700 WLW as an analyst and his insight is second-to-none. In a recent interview with us here at Cincy Jungle and The Orange and Black Insider Bengals podcast, McGee opened up about a topic that has long been a sensitive one among Cincinnati residents and their football fans.
In the grim years from 1991-2002, the Brown family became public enemies, thanks to a poor on-field product and a contentious negotiation for a new stadium that was unveiled in 2000. As years passed and Marvin Lewis brought the team to respectability, some of this iciness began to thaw. But, even with seven playoff berths under Lewis, the zero playoff wins continued to breed fan cynicism.
When we talked to McGee about the potential of owner and team president Mike Brown hoisting a Lombardi Trophy, he didn’t shy away from his feelings on the subject, or his affinity for the polarizing figure.
“I reflect back and our Super Bowl year was one of Paul Brown’s—I think it might have been his last year—alive,” McGee recounted (Brown actually passed away in 1991). “I remember we wanted to win it for him...It would mean so much to me on a personal note because I know he (Mike Brown) is totally misunderstood by the public because he doesn’t make himself accessible to the public as far as who he is and what he believes in and all of that.”
Contrary to what some may think McGee expounded on this sentiment emphatically noting that Brown loves his former players. The former receiver talked about how Brown “melts” around his former players and his being “so caring” about people.
“I’ve told so many stories about how he’s taught me so many things, and he’s brought me into his office and showed me when I was in my fourth year, breaking down: ‘Okay, if you make this amount of money, and you save this—this is what you’re going to pay in taxes,’” McGee recalled to us. “You know, just very fatherly.”
We’ve heard these types of stories from those whom some felt that this type of treatment from Brown were only towards those in his “inner circle”. However, Brown has shown a penchant for giving second (and sometimes third) chances to players he believes in, while also making some of his biggest stars the highest-paid players at their position during certain eras.
Yet, even with lavish free agency spending the past couple of offseasons, savvy draft classes and recent initiatives from the organization to re-engage both former players (Ring of Honor) and its fan base (Ruler of the Jungle, Pep Rally, etc.), stale and, frankly, mostly untrue narratives surround the team’s higher-ups. It’s why these thoughts from McGee as an attempt to dispel certain notions were a refreshing respite from tired takes.
“It would just mean everything for me to see him (Mike Brown) lift up that (Lombardi) Trophy and the people would just get off of his damn back,” McGee said. “He has been a pioneer in a lot of ways, his family has been a pioneer in a lot of ways. I’ve never understood why he receives so much criticism versus credit—it would just mean the world to me to see him smile because I know what kind of heart that man has.”
The Brown family in football and “pioneer” are synonymous. Paul would be on the NFL’s Mount Rushmore of iconic figures for his X’s and O’s contributions to the game, as well as those towards social and equality movements.
Instead, others have decided to deride the family for their lack of basking in the limelight (*cough* Jerry Jones *cough*), the PBS Stadium deal and a decade-long drought drier than the Sahara. Still, since the hiring of Marvin Lewis in 2003, Cincinnati has eight playoff appearances (averaging almost one appearance every other year), a 3-7 postseason record and now, an AFC Championship.
While other organizations may scoff at those numbers, they are also performance marks well above other franchises. And, while nothing is certain, this deep postseason run seems to be the first of many under Zac Taylor, Joe Burrow and Co.
While there are potentials rifts that exist, misconceptions continued to be painted and normal human imperfections to be accounted for, there is one thing that Chad Johnson told us this week: “Winning fixes everything.”
We hope McGee gets his wish on Sunday, and we witness Mr. Brown and his family lift the Lombardi Trophy for the first time.
There was a lot more in the chat, including his thoughts on Chase’s incredible rookie season, how the Bengals match up against the Rams and much more!
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