The mere mention of the names Stan Kroenke and Mike Brown, owners of the two NFL teams that face each other in the Super Bowl on Sunday, evokes largely negative emotions in fans of teams that own them. (LA Rams fans are nihilists, man, so give them a discount.) Talk to Bengals fans, former St. Louis Rams fans, Arsenal fans, or any fans of Kroenke’s other franchises, and the feedback ranges from outright fury to shocking despair.
Cincinnati doesn’t have an outdoor practice facility and Los Angeles can’t stop opposing fans from flooding their stadium, so it’s not like they found out all of a sudden and need to be silenced. It’ll be fun to see a bevy of fans who’ve never won a Super Bowl to celebrate one, but the prospect of seeing Brown or Kroenke hoist the Lombardi trophy after repeatedly strapping their own fans to train tracks , is depressing.
It’s like finding out that guy who was a dick in high school won a Pulitzer, or that girl who cheated on you in college married to Daniel Craig. If you want proof that God doesn’t exist, one of these two buffoons winning a title is as good a sign as there is.
As a Kroenke hater I had the luxury of sucking as a owner and as a person. (For the sake of transparency, I was a St. Louis Rams fan. I wrote earlier this year that I hope Kroenke chokes on an eclair† Now the Rams have been to two Super Bowls in four years, are coached by a man leading the way, spend real money money, and make it even more surprising effective trade. I wrote about the huge gamble that Los Angeles took every time a team traded as many concept picks as they did, but it paid off.
Regardless of how you feel about pushing your chips all in, if they beat the Bengals, they’ll join Denver and Tampa Bay as recent teams that have spent capital going after quarterbacks they thought would give them a title. delivered with the right coaches and cast. The Broncos have been stuck in rebuild mode ever since and we’ll see how the Bucs move on after Brady, but one Super Bowl win in exchange for a decade of losses is successful for many teams.
Before returning to LA, the Rams were an afterthought in St. Louis, a team that players didn’t want to be drafted by and fans didn’t want to watch because they were comically bad. So bad that good…here’s the main reason why I’m so jaded as explained in a previous piece also rejecting their run to the Super Bowl†
What I care about is that Rams owner Stan Kroenke won’t get a new ring after he clung to the Greatest Show on Turf and then let the team bleed out like a parasite until they were so anemic they were forced to move back to Los Angeles in 2016.”
I can’t say if Who hates Dey Brown as much as I hate Kroenke, but the team’s recent success comes on the heels of essentially three decades of largely terrible football. How forgivable are Brown’s mistakes compared to Kroenke’s missteps? At least Brown hasn’t moved the team and, like the Rams, may have devised a path to success.
They lined up well and that allowed them to use their thrift to their advantage. Deadspin’s Stephen Knox wrote about: they are cheapwhich is true when a cornerback is your highest paid player, but that means they have cap space to ink at least a few cornerstones of the Ja’Marr Chase, Tee Higgins, Tyler Boyd and Joe Burrow contingent.
Whether they do remains to be seen, and it’s perfectly fair to roll your eyes at the possibility, given Brown’s history. Recency bias, however, tells a different story. His daughter Katie Blackburn and granddaughter Elizabeth Blackburn have both made headlines to run the team.
Katie became the first woman appointed to the NFL’s Game Committee in addition to her great job running the team since she became essentially a shadow GM for her dad† Elizabeth, the team’s director of strategy and engagement, developed the Ring of Honor and their very clean new uniforms†
Of course it’s nice to see added diversity in a league that struggles with it, and let’s hope they continue to use the positions they are more than qualified for, but have undoubtedly been given in part due to favoritism to promote diversity within the organization and the NFL to increase. (It shouldn’t have escaped anyone’s notice that Mike Brown is the owner because his father owned it.)
Now about that organization’s folly prior to this Super Bowl run. I wrote about the Bo Jackson curse for the Wildcard game against the Raiders, and emphasizes why incompetent is more fit than cursed†
“Eight playoff appearances (no playoff runs; runs mean Cincinnati won a game) in 31 years and an outscore of 176-90 in the seven games they’ve played doesn’t qualify as bad luck. The closest we’ve come to a win was AJ McCarron’s brave 18-16 loss to the Steelers in 2015.”
In addition to frugality and poor preparation due to a lack of scouts or an owner/GM, the team has a history of taking risks on guys with character flaws. Adam “Pacman” Jones’ off-field incidents were well documented and Vontaze Burfict shot his way out of the competition. Burfiction was recently in the news for allegedly assaulting a guard while trying to find a secret pizza place in the Cosmopolitan in Las Vegas.
Joe Mixon was notorious for hitting a female student and break her jaw while in Oklahoma before being an objectively good running back for the Bengals. He arranged the suit and Brown even wrote: an open letter to the city after he drafted it.
I don’t know if giving guys a second and third chance counts as running a franchise poorly, but no fan wants to root for a problematic player. And I wouldn’t blame anyone knocked out by Brown employing Mixon, no matter how much he did penance for what happened.
Maybe it would be better if we just leave the owners in the penalty area and let the players and coaches who have done the job celebrate on the pitch. Execs from movie studios are not on hand to lift Oscar statues for the actors and directors.
Stan and Mike, you’ve all done enough, they got it from here. Thank you.