TDBH: Former Bengals bring network star power to National Sports Forum

Posted Feb 7, 2018

This Day in Bengals History - February 8, 2015

In a Paul Brown Stadium club lounge tonight the Bengals host a reception for the National Sports Forum’s annual convention of about 700 sales and marketing reps from the world of pro sports and they anchor the evening with a memorable orange-and-black panel discussion. Bengals Radio Network analyst Dave Lapham serves as moderator for the lively 40-minute symposium that ranges from the impact of Bengals founder Paul Brown to the future media coverage of his game. Brown is the common thread among panelists. Bob Trumpy, a Pro Football Hall-of-Fame broadcaster and the game’s first modern tight end, played for Brown. Lapham played on his last, best Bengals team. As general manager, Brown rejected NBC-TV’s Emmy Award-winning analyst Cris Collinsworth in the first round, so the story goes, because of his scrawny stripped-to-the-shorts scouting combine photo. But Brown took him in the second and Collinsworth helped the Bengals to both their Super Bowls. Solomon Wilcots, the power-house analyst for CBS and NFL Network, started at free safety on Brown’s last play-off team, the ’90 Bengals, and believes the P.B. thread through the panel isn’t just a coincidence.


“He wanted smart guys,’ Wilcots says in a suite before the discussion. “He wanted guys that were always attentive in meetings and in practice and in games, obviously. Remember, it was also Paul Brown who instituted team meetings before taking the practice field…he brought a professorial element to the game. Coaches became teachers and players became more informed, more enlightened. That’s something we share in common.” Collinsworth tells the panel that even though Brown’s fingerprints are all over the modern game’s fundamentals, such as classrooms and assistant coaches, what he’ll be remembered for most is integrating pro football. “I heard Jim Brown talk about it. It was no different than any other player,” Collinsworth says of the great Cleveland running back, whose feuds with Paul were one of the issues that led to his still-hot-to-the-touch ouster as Browns head coach.  “He just had (players) on the team. He didn’t even talk about it. He wouldn’t say anything about it. It was a fact that this guy was better than this guy, so we put this guy on the team. Despite some of the differences with Paul Brown, Jim Brown has enormous respect for Paul Brown because he just treated (guys) like any other player and at that time it was unheard of.”


By the time the ‘70s roll around, Wilcots believes Brown makes one of his most lasting contributions. As a member of the NFL Competition Committee, Brown pushes through the five-yard rule where defensive backs couldn’t touch receivers five yards down the field. “The passing game opens up,” Wilcots says. “The quarterbacks have thrown for more yards and touchdowns and the games are a lot more exciting.” Which has all helped lead to this: the 114.4 million people who listen to Collinsworth make the call last week of Patriots cornerback Malcolm Butler’s last-second interception to win the Super Bowl. He says with TV now so fractured and specialized, sports, especially the Super Bowl, are pretty much the only avenue left for advertisers on TV. The NFL, he says, isn’t over exposed. Indeed, he says, it may just be getting started. Which reminds Trumpy of a conversation with NBC execs and then NFL commissioner Pete Rozelle at the dawn of the 1980s when Rozelle spoke of his dream of “wall-to-wall,’ football on Sundays. “It happened three times this year,’ Trumpy says of the London games. “There were games at 9:15 in the morning, 1 p.m., 4 p.m. and 8 p.m.”

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