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Mark Curnutte offers the latest on the Cincinnati Bengals


Mark Curnutte started covering the Bengals and the NFL for The Enquirer in 2000. He previously wrote about urban affairs and other social issues for the Enquirer. He won the prestigious 1994 Unity Award from Lincoln University (Missouri) for "A Polite Silence," a seven-day series about race relations in Greater Cincinnati. He also has worked as an assistant features editor and features writer at The News & Observer in Raleigh, N.C. Curnutte is second vice president and a three-year board member of the Professional Football Writers of America (PFWA). He is a 1984 Miami University graduate.

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Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Vote vindicates Brown

The following is a story written Sunday, March 30, 2008, and published in the March 31 Enquirer. (A reader posted a comment on this blog this morning that the rest of the NFL was indeed coming around to where Bengals president Mike Brown had stood all along.)

By Mark Curnutte
mcurnutte@enquirer.com

PALM BEACH, Fla. – Mike Brown and his daughter, Katie Blackburn, after eating lunch, walked Sunday afternoon through the lobby of the Breakers resort.

Brown didn’t call any attention to himself; it’s not his style. But he couldn’t have been blamed if he’d decided to pump his chest a bit and said to fellow owners, “I told you so.”

Two years after Brown and Buffalo Bills owner Ralph Wilson were ridiculed for being behind the times and casting the only two votes against the league’s labor deal with the players’ union, these members of the NFL’s old guard now appear to have been ahead of the curve.

Though a league-imposed ban remains on team owners not to discuss the labor situation in public – lest they be fined – sentiment has swung among fellow owners toward Brown and Wilson’s position. The six-year extension from 2006 is not good for the league.

And for Brown and Wilson, it’s a matter of vindication.

Owners have until Nov. 8 to opt out of the six-year extension to their collective bargaining agreement with the players. They need only nine of 32 votes to get out of it. The prevailing wisdom is they will. Then the union will strike or use decertification tactics. The 2009 season would be the last with a salary cap.
Pat Bowlen, owner and chief executive officer of the Denver Broncos, is co-chair of the league’s compensation committee.

“I don’t know at this point because I’m on that particular committee, and we’re going to be talking about it a lot this week,” Bowlen said Sunday when asked if Brown and Wilson could take satisfaction in their votes. “But I have nothing but respect for Ralph and Mike.”

The CBA extension of March 2006 increased the players’ share of league revenue to 60 percent, adding another $850 million to $900 million to their take. It was approved 30-2 in a hurriedly organized vote against a union-imposed deadline.

Brown said “no” and was called cheap by national media. Wilson emerged from the vote at Grapevine, Texas, and said, “I don’t understand it. It is a very complicated issue, and I don’t believe we should be rushing to vote in 45 minutes.” The suggestion was made in the media that Wilson was senile.

“That took some courage,” Falcons president Rich McKay, co-chair of the competition committee, said of the twin no votes. “National media-wise they took some heat for it. I don't think they did internally. I think everyone respected what they said. It didn't mean that they voted that way, but they respected what they said.”

McKay has served on the competition committee with Brown. Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis now is on the committee, which proposes rules changes and points of emphasis to owners for possible adoption.

“I don't think any one has more passion about the NFL than the Brown family,” McKay said. “And that passion carries over to every facet of their approach to the game. Mike has always been a guy who has dedicated a tremendous amount of time, not just to his team, but to league matters. He's a pretty well thought-out and bright person.”

The Bengals and Bills are two of the NFL’s smallest-market and lower-revenue teams.

The Bills, with league approval, have since moved eight games over the next five seasons to the Rogers Centre in Toronto. The goal is to create additional revenue for the club. They will play a preseason and a regular-season game in 2008 across the Canadian border.

The rest of the league, even large-market owners such as New England’s Robert Kraft, has come to better understand Brown and Wilson’s wisdom.

“They are well-respected. They don’t seem to hesitate when they have something to say to say it,” said Dan Rooney, chairman of the Pittsburgh Steelers, another relatively small-market team.

Tom Benson is owner and president of the New Orleans Saints.

“My feeling is there is 100 percent support of everything we’re doing right now, and it includes them, too. This period of time we’re going through right now, it looks to be that we’ve got a great thing going, and everybody (owners) is going to have something they like and something they don’t like.

“I think we’ve got 100 percent across the board, including those two (Brown and Wilson).”


9 Comments:

at 5/20/2008 12:17 PM Blogger erirob1 said...

As a Bengals fan I was behind Mike Brown 100%. I actually got a little upset with Jerry Jones comments to Mike Brown about selling the naming rights to Paul Brown Staduim and other commercialisms to generate more revenue. The problem I had was one, there is already to much commercialism in the league(waiting now for logos on uniforms) and when it comes to the stadium, its name should be a representation of the team. Now with the forcast looks bleek with talk of strike I'm afraid for the sport. Other leagues , particularly baseball have suffered through strike and other work stoppages and it took many years to recover. With the passion of true football fans I don't think it would be as bad, at least I hope it doesn't but everyone involved, whether owner or player should really look at what is best for the game, not themselves. Make the league stronger, the envy of all other sports. Make an example of cooperation not seen in anyones lifetime. Players and owners are usually worried about getting their piece of the pie, well wait to long
and the pie will rot away.

 
at 5/20/2008 1:18 PM Blogger Nickname unavailable said...

Chalk one up for Mike Brown...and the final score shows...(drum roll)...(opening the envelope)...he is one of THE WORST OWNERS IN PROFESSIONAL SPORTS!!! Good work Mike!

 
at 5/21/2008 8:45 AM Blogger The Young Right Hander said...

Wouldn't it be nice if Mike Brown was as good at running a football team as he is at business. He can beat the IRS, the Hamilton County commissioners and the citizens of Hamilton County, but he can't beat the Steelers, Browns, and Ravens.

 
at 5/21/2008 11:37 AM Blogger Jeffrey said...

If you don't enjoy something and you are lousy at while at the same time you are crying poverty over not making any money from it.....Get OUT!!! There are always people looking to buy an NFL franchise. I am sure Mikey could find some use for the at least half a billion dollars he would get out of it. I am tired of this loser. He knows nothing of football. I hope they do sell the naming rights to the stadium.

 
at 5/21/2008 11:39 AM Blogger Anonymous said...

So if we have no salary cap in another couple of years then the name of the game is, "How much longer will the Bengals remain in Cincinnati?"

any takers... in 20 years we will be watching an extra 2 or 5 teams in New York and Los Angeles.

Poor players just dont get paid enough. (you try raising a family on 7 figures a year?)

Carson Palmer will be MVP (just sayin)

Mike from Yankees wearing Red Sox.

 
at 5/21/2008 4:21 PM Blogger mindriot25 said...

Selling the naming rights to the stadium is an insult to Paul Brown, who is a legend. If Mike Brown did that then I would be the first one down there with a torch in my hand to join all the crazy people already there.
Everyone thinks Mike Brown is so cheap but have any of us really seen the salary figures?? I know I haven't. It's easy to assume but that doesn't mean its correct.

 
at 5/21/2008 10:02 PM Blogger Dave said...

This blog's title >> "Vote vindicates Brown" - because .. the owners voted to negate the contract extension as Mike intially voted.

But wait... if the contract expires, so does the salary cap - the ONLY thing saving Mike Brown's incompetent franchise.

Mike's obstinance could be the final straw - without a cap, the Bengals are toast. Too funny.

 
at 5/22/2008 10:57 AM Blogger Who dey head hunter said...

I love it. Feed the very beast that kills you. All of these little competitive measures are the very beast that kills the GALs and craps on your who dey heads!

Under these measures, Mikey makes money no matter how shi**y the product. I mean how hard is this to figure out? YOU WILL NEVER HAVE A WINNING FRANCHISE UNDER THE CURRENT SET UP! It totally de-incentivizes Mike Brown and other small market owners. The exception would be the Rooneys in Pittsburgh who, despite their being able to sit back and make money on a mediocre product, spend and work for the fan and the team. It is a whole other experience in most every other NFL town. This owner is a joke and a pariah on this city and you fans and until you stand up and demand his ouster, you will have year after year of mediocrity, and failure, that's a fact.
The NFL tv revenues are in the billions, and Mike takes his equal share of that. No matter how bad his product is, he takes the same amount as the Pats, Cowboys, Packers, Steelers, and several other franchises that do more in a day to build the NFL brand, than Mikey has done in 20 years. In fact, I'd argue that except for a few years there, the BenGALs as a franchise have contributed little to nothing to the NFL brand. I don't go to Portland, Oregon and see those idiotic striped jerseys on anyone but I sure see a ton of Cowboys, Broncos, and Packers jerseys. I go to Florida and the only GALs jerseys I see there are on the backs of BenGAL players waving guns.
What a joke this team is and what a joke the fans are.
Who dey? Honestly, of all the slogans a perennial loser should adopt, a question about who thinks they're gonna beat us is the last one you should sign on for.
Stay Stoopid Sincy

 
at 5/22/2008 11:15 AM Blogger Who dey head hunter said...

If your sports journalists (snicker) around here were worth a penny, they would be telling you this stuff. They would be all over Mike like a hobo on a ham sandwich. Instead, Mike gets a free pass because this is a podunk city that a guy like Mike can manage to gain some power in. He doesn't like the reporter, he complains, limits access, blacklists him. Gets people fired, and he controls every aspect of the team except the players off field behavior. He even has total control of a tax payer purchased facility. I am still amazed at that sweetheart piece of graft he pulled off. I mean imagine building a beautiful park on taxpayer's money, with woods, a lake, trails, everything, and then giving control over when the park is used, and by whom, and for how long to one man who obviously thinks it should be used only about 11 times a year?!?!?!? This is your facility, you paid for it. You put money in it, your hard earned money and I ask you, have you ever been on the field? Hell, have you ever even been inside the stadium?

And you who dey heads are partially to blame for this. Every time Mark or Doc or Goheen tried to write an honest piece about the ills of this perennial loser, you all crucify them, call them haters, and fly off the handle. You are all too stupid to figure out that these guys are doing you a service.

So write your local sports writer (again, snicker) and tell them to put the heat on this team's operations. You won't be sorry. Tell them to dig deep, write informative pieces that helps the football challenged (benGAL fan) understand why the GALs are such losers. I mean, these are fair topics for a team that has been this bad FOR 20 YEARS.
20 YEARS 20 YEARS 20 YEARS 20 YEARS20 YEARS 20 YEARS20 YEARS 20 YEARS20 YEARS 20 YEARS20 YEARS 20 YEARS20 YEARS 20 YEARS20 YEARS 20 YEARS20 YEARS 20 YEARS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

That is just astonishing to me.
3S

 
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