CINCINNATI BENGALS OWNER Mike Brown has been ranked the worst owner of an NFL franchise by none other than Sports Illustrated magazine. Columnist Michael Silver charges that Brown, in addition to overseeing a team whose players suffer an amazing number of brushes with the law, also said some rather stupid things at a recent NFL team owners meeting. In bestowing Mr Brown with the last-place ranking, Mr Silver writes:
"Boy, Brown has sure done a fantastic job of bringing the Bengals into the 21st Century. Once known merely as a pathetic football team whose on-field ineptitude mirrored management's cheap, clueless approach -- the Bungles -- Brown's team has now become a national punch line, his players the poster children for malfeasance. Welcome to Sin City, or Cinci for short.
Until very recently, Brown sat back and watched as clowns like Chris Henry did incomprehensibly stupid things like get arrested for handgun charges while wearing his own jersey and kept their roster spots. You'd think someone who employs so many miscreants (10 Bengals players have been arrested in the last 14 months) would be careful about invoking the names of certain notorious villains, but this is what Brown did in front of more than 50 of his peers at last March's owners' meetings. In the midst of a complaint about the current stadium-building plan that is part of the league's revenue-sharing arrangement, Brown was reminded by a fellow owner that he had taken advantage of the same plan (and a provision that allowed him to waive the club-seat premiums that normally go to visiting teams) upon opening Paul Brown Stadium several years earlier. According to a witness, Brown replied, "Look, it seemed like a good thing in the beginning. A lot of people think a lot of things are good in the beginning. A lot of people thought Hitler was good in the beginning."
Well, now. That's just like school on a snow day, isn't it?* At this rate, Mr Brown's going to make Donald Sterling look like a paragon of sports management. I mean, it says something when you get ranked worse than the Fords.
In Mr Silver's column, other owners in the NFL's AFC North Division fare considerably better. The Pittsburgh Steelers' Dan Rooney -- and Art Rooney II -- were ranked ninth. Why the Rooneys were not ranked No. 1 is ridiculous, but Mr Silver seems to acknowledge this truth in his essay: "Last year I had Rooney ranked 10th, and many of you folks reacted like I'd just rated democracy as the 10th-best form of government."
Steve Bisciotti of the Baltimore Ravens was ranked 13th -- which seems a bit high, but hey -- while Cleveland Browns owner Randy Lerner was ranked 22nd.
* (No -- class!)