Remember: Team owner and president Mike Brown is a very smart businessman.
No. Wrong. False. Incorrect.
I hate when people say this. Bothers me to no end. Makes me feel like I am taking crazy pills. Let me clarify so we can dispel this silly notion once and for all:
Mike Brown happens to be a monopoly franchisee owner of a hugely successful larger business called the NFL. Mike Brown did not invent the NFL. He did not invent the salary cap/revenue sharing structure that led to such a popular, competitive league. He did not inspire the rabid, obsessive fandom that infects virtually all Americans with respect to football and creates almost limitless demand to consume it.
No, all Mike did was pop out of his mother's womb as the son of Paul Brown, inherit his business, and ride an incredible wave of growth that had nothing to do with him. Right dad, right place, right time.
In fact, I would argue he's a terrible businessman. All it takes to see this is a quick thought experiment. What if Mike Brown ran any other business the way he ran the Bengals? This would mean the following:
- Key executives would consist entirely of family members and maybe a few close friends
- The most important department for the long term health of the business would be severely understaffed
- There would be no reinvestment in the business itself for future improvements, all money made would go directly back to owners
- There would be no concern as to whether or not your customers actually liked your product
I could go on but I do not wish to belabor the point. It should be obvious that any business that faces actual competition would fail spectacularly if Mike Brown ran it the way he runs the Bengals. It requires it's own post but let me just add that Mike Brown likely leaves tens of millions of dollars on the table running the franchise in this manner (hint: they made more money in 2005/2006 than any other year, can you guess why?).
So no, Mike Brown is not a good businessman.
Here's what he is good at: exploiting his monopolistic advantage to run the Bengals HIS WAY; on field success be damned.
But that does not (I repeat DOES NOT) make him a good businessman. So stop saying it.
PS - The only incredibly profitable move he ever made was milking the stadium deal for all he could. Essentially, a cold, calculating, cynical maneuver to take advantage of a city's desire for pro football at a time when fan bases were held hostage by the threat of moving. And even that doesn't fit the definition of a "business" decision when you think about it.