CINCINNATI -- Bengals owner Mike Brown pretty much avoids the media all year, except for the team’s pre-training camp luncheon.
The Bengals have been doing it in one form or another in all 50 years of the team's history.
Brown does a one-on-one with everyone who attends. He answers any and all questions. We listened in on the interviews. He is remarkably consistent when answering the same question from different reporters. The responses are close to verbatim.
Brown answered a lot of questions about Adam "Pacman" Jones, who was suspended after getting in an off-the-field incident that led to his arrest. Joe Mixon, the running back the club took with its second pick, was a topic for the same reason.
Brown also addressed the Marvin Lewis situation. Lewis is in the final year of his contract. Last year’s disappointing season was a big subject of queries as well.
He also told the story of how his father, Paul Brown, put an end to Mike’s NFL playing career before it started.
Here’s the the most interesting things Brown said on Tuesday:
On Jones and his off-the-incident
“Adam we had in here going on eight years. He’s had incidents. This last one he was drunk and disorderly. There’ no excuse for that.
"He made an ass out of himself. He embarrassed himself, his family. He embarrassed the team and the National Football League. He knows that. He has paid a dear price with the judicial system -- he went to jail for a couple of days -- and at the league level, where he was suspended. That’s expensive, unless you don’t think a few hundred thousand dollars is expensive. And most of all, he suffered in the court of public opinion...
...I like him. I like him personally. I think he’s a good player. I think he can overcome this. I’m prepared to give him a chance to do it. If I’m wrong, I’ll take the responsibility for it and that’ll be the end of it. But I’m going to give him this chance.”
Did they consider parting ways with Jones?
“This is a process that’s been going on for six months. When you say is there any consideration, we had a lot of considerations. I’m not going to say that something wasn’t discussed, wasn’t considered. What we did is what we did.”
Bringing in Mixon after the trouble he got into at Oklahoma
“Mixon is a very young guy. He turned 21 (Monday). The misbehavior he had was three years ago. He did a bad thing. He struck a young women, a reflexive action. He regretted it. He has paid a price for it, both in the judicial system and the university, where he was suspended. He met with the young lady. They’ve come to a settlement with each other. She has forgiven him publicly. He has a apologized publicly. I think it’s time to give a young guy like this a chance to do the best of his life as he can do. I don’t see what’s served by denying someone opportunity.”
On Lewis and his contract
“Marvin’s been here 15 years. He’s knows me and I know him. We have a very strong relationship. He’s been with our team as long as any coach in the league other than (New England coach Bill) Belichick. He’s earned his spot here. We’re comfortable with him. I think he’s comfortable here, too. We’ve had this situation on and off through the years. It probably adds a little bit of pressure and is a talking point. But, in the past, it has worked out. I’m not uncomfortable with it. I don’t think he’s that uncomfortable with it either.”
“Bob Costas is a respected media guy. Syracuse hasn’t turned out many better. I respect him myself. But that doesn’t mean he's always right. I think he swung and missed. Over last four years, we are in the bottom quartile for suspended players. That’s at the low end. There are teams that have had as many three or four times as many suspended players. Yet I regret every one. I feel responsibility for it.”
Where does the soft spot for players like Jones and Mixon come from?
“I just am who I am. One time I got involved in trying to get Stanley (Wilson) straight. I remember that around the time my dad was letting me do more. He looked at and shook his head. He said, ‘Go ahead if you want.’ I know what he was saying, ‘Go ahead, you dummy.’ I went ahead. They don’t all work out. God knows I know. I’m still who I am.”
On bringing the NFL Draft show to Cincinnati?
“While I’m still around here, which can’t be forever, I don’t have plans to push the league to bring the draft here. When I watch these extravaganzas of the draft, I scratch my head a little bit. Is that necessary? That goes beyond my acceptance. I’m for the draft. All I want to know is who we get. I don’t need to see the mob of people, doing what they’re doing and the show that it’s become.”
On the end of his career as a player
“My favorite draft story is when I was a senior in college. We got to 30th round, and the then-Chicago Cardinals came over to the Browns' draft table and said to my dad that they were thinking about drafting me with their last pick. They wanted to find out from him if it would be OK. He said: ‘I’ll make you a deal, if you don’t pick him we won’t either.’ So ended my NFL career.”
On establishing a Ring of Honor
“This is our response to a Ring of Honor: We’re going to put up posters in the concourse on each side of the stadium. We’ll have to top offensive guys on one side. We’ll have the top defensive guys on the other side. We’ll have a permanent posters and pictures of them in their heyday. I think that will be fun for people to recognize and see.”
On expectations this year
“In my mind we have a young team, but a good team that is coming on. If a couple of pieces come together, we could be what I want to be with this team. Every year is different. Every year for me is a challenge. It’s exciting. In that sense, this year is no different. My expectations are always high. But I was taught by my father that you don’t go out and brag about how great you’re going to be. That is not what advances the cause. You do the reverse. You sit and say, ‘Ah, I see we have a lot of real good teams to play.’ But I think we’ll be all right. But you have to prove it.”
Was last season frustrating?
“Yes. We had expectations of doing better than we did. We had close games that didn’t go our way. I don’t have an excuse. But we fell short. Everyone here feels that way. We disappointed our public, our fans, ourselves. It wasn’t what we wanted. Now, we get a chance to redeem ourselves.”
Mike or Mr. Brown?
“(The older, retired players) call me Mike. People today don’t know better and they call me Mr. Brown. We had a Mr. Brown. I’m not Mr. Brown.”
On his letter to fans after last season
“We’re part of this community. We have a team that’s part of this community. We want to go forward in step with the community. We mean to do right. From time to time, we misstep or somebody down here does. If they do, we’ll try our best to make it right. I’m not exactly a hanging judge. But I do work with these guys. We want them to have a future. I guess it was just a cry from the heart: ‘I’m one of you.’ We’re part of the community.”