CINCINNATI — Bengals owner Mike Brown has changed his mind and is willing to honor some of the franchise’s best players at a stadium where there is virtually no trace of the past.
Brown said on Tuesday that he’s never been nostalgic and doesn’t like to pay tribute to past stars. The only notable nod to the Bengals history at Paul Brown Stadium is that it’s named after his father, and even that left him with mixed feelings.
There is no Bengals Hall of Fame or ring of honor like at other NFL stadiums. Former Bengals players have urged the team to do a better job of celebrating its past, which includes two Super Bowl appearances that resulted in losses to San Francisco.
During the team’s annual training camp luncheon at the stadium on Tuesday, Brown said it was his decision not to honor the past.
“It’s me,” he said. “It’s in my bones. Like everyone, I tend to look backward some, but I’m always focused on what’s coming next.
“We’ve had decades now of wonderful players here. I can understand why people feel we should have celebrated them more and perpetuated their achievements better than we have. I’m probably at fault.”
There are photos of some of the team’s most famous players by one of the stadium entrances, but no statues or other recognition to top players or championships. The team is looking into honoring players through videoboards that will be added to the facing of the upper deck.
“I understand the players,” he said. “They want to be remembered. I think it is a good thing to do that. We have never traded here on nostalgia. That’s probably my fault, because a little of it is a good thing. Fans like that sort of thing. What I’m saying is I’m stewing on it. I’m aware of the discomfort with our position.”
The Bengals control naming rights to the stadium, which opened for the 2000 season. Paul Brown founded the franchise, and Mike Brown decided to name it after him rather than pursue corporate naming rights or simply call it Bengals Stadium.
Brown said he was torn about the decision to name it after his father.
“That was a debate in my mind,” Brown said. “I went back and forth between calling it Paul Brown Stadium and Bengals Stadium. In a weak moment I succumbed.
“We have no statues. We have no Hall of Fame. We have no Ring of Honor. We do have large pictures of the players in the foyer of the west side. But is that enough? Probably not. I confess it isn’t. Maybe someone who comes after me can do better with this.”
Notes: The Bengals released WR James Wright, who is recovering from a knee injury. If he clears waivers, he reverts to Cincinnati’s injured reserve list. … LB Vontaze Burfict (knee), DE Margus Hunt (ankle) and LB Sean Porter (knee) will open camp on the physically unable to perform list. They can join practice as soon as they’re cleared medically. … Rookie OT Cedric Ogbuehi is on the non-football injury list. He’s recovering from a torn ACL suffered in a bowl game. … Players started reporting on Tuesday. The first practice of training camp is on Thursday afternoon.
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