Of all the owners in the National Football League, our hometown Bengals may have one of the worst.
Analyzing the Bengals’ ownership situation begs the question: Should the team make a change in leadership?
Mike Brown, son of the former Bengals owner Paul Brown, has owned the team since 1991.
In the 29 years since he took over, the Bengals have managed to make the playoffs just seven times and have won zero postseason games.
While there is an argument that the team’s success has little to do with its ownership, that doesn’t apply in this case.
Brown has been the de facto general manager of the Bengals since his tenure began and is one of only two owners in the NFL who have both the title or powers of a general manager. The other is Jerry Jones, who owns and manages the Dallas Cowboys.
On top of his incompetency as an owner managing the roster, Brown has turned the taxpayers of Hamilton County against him.
In 1996, Brown was part of a group who convinced the county to enact a 0.5% sales tax increase in order to help build riverfront stadiums for the Reds and Bengals. Since then, the Bengals have turned into a cash cow for Brown, churning out impressive profit margins, while simultaneously fielding a team that never seems to do enough to get over the hump.
The Bengals’ lease on Paul Brown Stadium will expire in 2026, leaving Hamilton County with a decision to make. Estimates for needed stadium improvements have settled at around $300 million.
It is almost a guarantee that Mike Brown will pander to the county to get them to foot the bill for it, citing how beneficial it would be for the local community.
The Bengals just recorded their worst attendance total in more than 20 years. Fan morale about the team is at a decade low, both in terms of the on-field product and decision making in the front office. Things could not be looking much worse, even with the team having secured the No.1 pick in the 2020 NFL Draft by virtue of having the worst record in the league during the 2019 season.
Here’s where the reporting stops and where my 14 years of diehard fandom enters.
Mike Brown needs to sell the team. It has become more and more clear every year of his tenure as an owner that he does not care nearly as much about the product on the field as he does profiting off fans who come watch the team play.
Fans deserve far more than a cheap owner who does not want to spend what it takes to advance in the playoffs. They deserve an owner who knows how to delegate power on the football side to people who know what they’re doing, and financially supports those chosen few to run the front office effectively.
Additionally, Hamilton County should not be forced to support an owner who time and again has taken valuable dollars from its constituents and put them into his own pocket.
The product the county has paid for has not been the product they have received, and it’s time for the people of Hamilton County to say no to giving their hard-earned financial capital to an owner who uses it for his own personal gain.
Mike Brown is the poster child for how nepotism in sports can and often does go horribly wrong in an organization.
I kindly ask, as a true and loyal fan, season ticket holder and Cincinnati transplant, that he sell the team to someone who will do right by the people who matter — the fans.