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Who Dey think gonna slather praise on Paul Brown?

April 2 2011 at 5:14 PM
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I've always wondered what our team founder with the M.A. in education, Paul Brown, thought of "Who Dey". It seems oddly fitting that 40-plus years on into the life of the Bengals franchise, his memory gets a PR boost from a column named after the grammatically mangled cheer. Nevertheless I'm sure the April Fools timing is strictly an accident.


The "Who Dey Perspective" seeks to correct misperceptions about the team, per Jack Brennan, the Bengals PR director. He could have saved himself the trouble on this topic. Most folks already embrace the PB hagiography, as it provides a neat little contrast for discussing his son's ineptitude. That approach has it's drawbacks, though.

I've harped on it before, but Paul Brown was no great shakes after 1955. Sure, before that he was absolutely legendary. But that was 13 years before the Bungs played their first game. In his long post-legendary period, Paul Brown was comparable to Tom Coughlin. The current Giants head coach didn't win his Super Bowl until he gave up some control and lightened up a bit, and that was totally forced on him by management.

Brown had no such influence, and the results were underachieving teams. And a progressively lowered ceiling. First he lost his Cleveland gig, much like Coughlin was tossed out of Jacksonville three decades later. Then he started the Bungs, and could never get them past a certain point. Yeah, it's nice that he made the playoffs in his third year, but that was in a weak division, and he had a finesse team that couldn't beat the big boys. As head coach and GM, he could only take the team so far. That's OK, but nothing to get excited about.

And all those coaching innovations mentioned in the column? Terribly old-hat by the time the Bungs came along. If he were still "football's most innovative coach," as one biographer put it, then where were all the nifty innovations in Cincinnati? Relegated to Bill Walsh's pass plays, no doubt.

In Part II of the Who Dey Genuflective, we'll hear more about PB's wonderful track record. Can't wait.

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April 3 2011, 9:14 PM 

I'd look that word up if the dictionary wasn't all the way on the other side of the room....

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Re: Hagiography?

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April 5 2011, 6:56 AM 


- 2 dictionary results
[hag-ee-og-ruh-fee, hey-jee-] Show IPA
noun, plural -phies.
the writing and critical study of the lives of the saints; hagiology.
180515; hagio- + -graphy

Related forms
hag·i·o·graph·ic [hag-ee-uh-graf-ik, hey-jee-] Show IPA, hag·i·o·graph·i·cal, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2011.
Cite This Source
Link To Hagiography
World English Dictionary
hagiography (hærf) [Click for IPA pronunciation guide]

n , pl -phies
1. the writing of the lives of the saints
2. biography of the saints
3. any biography that idealizes or idolizes its subject





Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009

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Re: Hagiography?

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April 5 2011, 7:47 PM 

"...any biography that idealizes or idolizes its subject"

Now tell me that isn't an apt word.

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More Hoo-Hawing over Paul Brown

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April 9 2011, 3:56 PM 

Jack Brennen is back with the second installment of his Paul Brown veneration campaign.
As we said last week, we hope you'll budget a few minutes of your reading regimen to give this piece a try. We think you'll be glad you did, and that's our "extra point."


As a matter of fact, I did manage to carve out some time from my hectic Mike Brown-bashing schedule. Let's take a closer look at some of his offerings on the father.
After the 1962 season, Brown shockingly was ousted as Cleveland's coach. Despite his founder's status, he had never been the majority owner of the Browns, and he was shown the door just a year after Art Modell bought the franchise. "This can never be my team," Modell told Brown, as long as you are here."

There was a little more to it then that. I refer you again to Andrew O'Toole and his bio Paul Brown: The Rise and Fall and Rise Again of Football's Most Innovative Coach. If you haven't read it already then you should, especially Chapter 10.

Brown made a major, major trade without consulting or even notifying the owner, Art Modell (Bobby Mitchell for Ernie Davis.) His players' discontent with the team's direction was becoming public knowledge. He traded away a good quarterback for a lesser one. And in many ways his unbending nature was catching up to him. O'Toole:
The natural course of change that occurs with each succeeding generation was obvious in the complaints that emanated from the Cleveland clubhouse. Brown's greatest success had been built on the back of men who had fought Hitler and Hirohito. The oppressive nature of Brown's coaching philosophy was not odious to these men, who had served their country under dire circumstances. Indeed, the culture had changed. The young men now charging into battle for Brown on Sunday afternoons were different from those who took the field in 1946, or 1950, for that matter. Blind faith in the head coach was a thing of the past, and Brown was slow to understand this transformation. He also refused to acknowledge the growing sense of independence found in the modern athlete. Who among the current crop of players had earned a championship with Brown? Paul may have been a legend, but to his players Brown's was a soft reputation. What have you done for me lately? This football genius was a thing of the past.

It wasn't so shocking, and Modell had his reasons.

I could go on forever, but I'll spare you guys most of my griping, for now. Let me just touch on two more things. First there's Brown's efforts at "breaking the color barrier". No argument here. He deserves much praise for that, but I'm focusing here on his wins and losses.

Second, there's Brown's historical coaching record. Brennan closed with a table that summarizes the man's career. Very helpful. I changed the breakouts a bit and added some columns. Take a look:

[linked image]

Note the decline in Brown's post-legendary period and how the trend continues on after his passing. This is even clearer when we chart it:

[linked image]

Referring back to the O'Toole passage, "what have you done for me lately"? The Paul Brown legacy is definitely on a downward slide. Judging by the trend, the winning percentage may be vanishingly small in the future, when the third generation is in charge. And it will be in the grand tradition of the franchise founder.

You may join in the PB procession if you so choose, but not this Bengals follower.

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