If you haven't yet heard the news, brace yourself: after 21 groundbreaking years as Bengals director of football ops, Jim Lippincott has decided to "retire" (ie. move back to his old job as Moeller High School defensive coordinator).
Devastating news, I know. It's uncertain how in the hell the Bengals can fill the gaping hole left by Lippincott's departure. Who else will preside over the drafts that have yielded two (or maybe three!!!) playoff teams over more than two decades? Who else will, as Hobspin so lovingly writes, show up "with a gleam in his eye or a quick in his step"? Few personnel executives in the NFL today look so alive, so full of life and passion as that man to the right. But most importantly, who will wake fringe players up at 5:30 in the morning to inform them of their release? Who can ask for playbooks with such grace?
This quote by Lippincott about Mikey Boy truly says it all:
“To me, Mike is the living example of what a man should be. He’s honest, sincere, loyal, intelligent, gentlemanly. He made that part of the job easy."
As we all know, Jim Lippincott was grossly unqualified for the job he held with the Bengals; someone without any NFL experience cannot competently serve as one of the few scouts and personnel men for an organization, a fact that partially accounts for all of the losses we've witnessed throughout the years. But because he and Mike Brown have a good relationship -- because Lippincott apparently thinks the world of Mikey Boy -- he was fit for the position under Brown's standards. How insightful or talented Lippincott was never mattered; as long as Brown liked working alongside him, and as long as Lippincott never challenged Brown's authority over the team as its de facto GM, he was as good a director of football ops as could be found. This will certainly apply to whomever Brown gets to fill the position once Lippincott leaves.
People who wonder why we at WDR still protest the Bengals despite this 2011 season can look at Jim Lippincott for some enlightenment. The Bengals continue to be run less like an NFL organization than a pet project with which Mikey Boy can feed his ego and greed. Until the front office is packed with experienced, knowledgeable executives who have professional, not personal, appeal, the Bengals cannot reach sustained success. We all realize this, as well as how far away such a scenario is--the head of football ops without anything on his resume except 20+ years of failed drafts leaves, in the Bengals organization, due to a retirement and not a firing, to fanfare and not regret.