Brown Comments On Labor: Fueling The Fire?

Did Brown's comments help or hurt the situation?

As teams around the league have been issuing very carefully-worded official statements, the Bengals took a different approach in discussing the ongoing labor strife and lock-out by making comments to both Joe Reedy of the Enquirer and Geoff Hobson at

The move was probably not a particularly wise one, especially considering that Brown is on the labor committee and was one of the nine owners present in Washington D.C. for those last-ditch efforts at reaching an agreement last week.

Brown was not as careful with his words, and while nothing he said was overly antagonistic, his frankness was immediately spread throughout the internet, and will likely serve to incite more discord between owners and players.

“It came down to the obvious point that all the union cared about was the money and these other things certainly didn’t matter enough,” Brown said.

While this very well may prove to be true, a comment like this coming from arguably the cheapest owner in professional sports is doubtful to win praise or influence people in a positive way.

He also threw a few accusations at the union for not bargaining in good faith.

“We have a union that, unlike unions elsewhere, seems not to want to collectively bargain; rather it wants to go to court,” the old man said. “In our opinion they have the intention of reconstituting at some point and that the decertification is a gambit to gain entry to the federal courts system with a lawsuit and leverage us with that threat.”

I don’t doubt Brown’s legal opinions.  While his record as a general manager remains abysmal, his won-loss mark in courtrooms and in negotiations is much better.  However, knowing how he is perceived by fans and the media, (let alone players) he should have also known that choosing to speak out was probably not the best move for the Bengals, the league or anyone else.

On the bright side, he did mention that other team employees won’t be asked to shoulder a burden from this situation like several other teams have.  No furloughs or paycuts will be initiated at PBS. 

“We will keep our people under hire and support them,” Brown said. “That’s part of what we prepared to do. We have an obligation to our people and ask them not to carry an unfair burden.”

It’s probably easier to do so in Cincinnati than in other places, where the team keeps a lean operation at all times.

Brown has seen this kind of thing before, with labor disputes in 1982 and 1987, and he believes, like most of the owners, that this will end soon enough.

“I’ve been through ups and downs in labor negotiations in the NFL and there is one thing similar in all of them. They do come to an end and you get back together and you go out and play football. This one will be no different,”

The question for us fans remains: When?  And how much longer may have Brown’s comments added to the time it will take to get everyone past knee-jerk reactions and emotion and on to a compromise that brings the game, and the money, back.

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