Bengals owner Mike Brown watches the pre-season practice from his golf cart. Photo by Michael Mitchell

By Conrad Clowers

Herald Sports Writer

It’s got to be hard to fill the shoes of a legend. Especially when that legend is your father. The late Paul Brown is not in multiple hall of fames for nothing. He enjoyed success on the high school, college, and pro football levels. The next time you chant ‘Who-Dey’ remember one thing. You would never be able to chant that without any Bengals. The Bengals were brought to Cincinnati because of Paul Brown.

Mike Brown took over control of the Bengals after Paul Brown passed in the early 1990’s. For decades the younger Brown endured the ire of fans who went year after year of laughable failure. Failures in draft, failures in results, and failures in coaching. At one point in the early 1990s, Bengal stadium workers had to be on the lookout for disrespectful banners. Banners that would say not so pleasant things about owner Mike Brown. Tee shirts would be sold on Cincinnati streets. Venders would try and sell shirts such as “Mike Brown, fire yourself!’”.. and “Mike Brown sucks.”

For years fans and even media were critical of the Bengal owner, because he refused to hire a general manager to make decisions on Bengal personnel. The younger Brown wanted to win, but was determined to do it his way.

Once the  2000s came around, Brown finally started enjoying successes. With the hiring of Marvin Lewis as coach and the drafting of Heisman winner Carson Palmer, all of a sudden long awaited success for Brown became a reality. The moves made Cincinnati go from the NFL’s  laughing stock to solid mediocrity. The problem was Brown would once again face the ire of fans this time of keeping a coach around for over a decade without winning one playoff game.

Those days are long behind. Brown would make the best two moves of his ownership. The hiring of Zac Taylor to succeed Lewis as coach turned out to be golden. The next would be the drafting of Joe Burrow. The moves would spring Brown’s Bengals into one of the top teams in the NFL. For the first time under his ownership and in team history, the Bengals would reach back-to-back AFC championships and move on to a Super Bowl.

Gone are the days where stadium personnel has to be on the lookout for disrespectful Mike Brown banners coming into the stadium. The current biggest challenge of the Bengal owner is putting together enough Franklins, Jacksons, and Lincolns to keep star quarterback Joe Burrow around for years to come. It took nearly 3 decades to come about, but Mike Brown now is amongst the League’s best owners in success. Somewhere dad is looking down with a smile. Bengal merchandise sells, ratings are up for Bengal games, and expectations are high. Mike Brown never has been much of a talker. He lets his body of work do it for him.

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