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Bengals savor million-dollar NFL Taste

Posted Jun 13, 2012

If you ever want to get Nancy Brown in one place, good luck. And Wednesday night is one of those nights as the Bengals hosted the league's most successful Taste of the NFL at Paul Brown Stadium's West Club Lounge.

Brown, the perpetually moving wife of Bengals president Mike Brown, is volunteering at the silent auction table. Since she's also one of the driving forces of the Salvation Army's local fundraising efforts, she's holding a Domata Peko jersey and waiting for him to sign it for that future auction. And she's also conferring with her husband on the strategy for tonight's main event, the auctioning of players to take to lunch.

"Who do you want to take?" Mike Brown asks in between bites of a cheese coney.

"We had such a good time with the Samoan players and they've said it's got to be a yearly thing," Nancy Brown says.

This is the yearly lock, ever since the Freestore Foodbank began teaming with the Bengals 10 years ago to put on the event. Nancy Brown and The Marvinettes, her group of friends loyal to head coach Marvin Lewis, get Mike Brown to come up with lunch with some of her favorites.

"They're all my favorites," she says, and from Pro Bowl Bowlers Chad Ochocinco and T.J. Houshmandzadeh and specialists Mike Nugent and Kevin Huber and offensive linemen Andrew Whitworth and Bobbie Williams, she's enjoyed getting to know her Bengals for a good cause.

The ranges always seem to be between $1,200 and $5,000. The offensive line and defensive lines, and the Samoans can hit the high end with all the proceeds part of the $900,000 the team and Freestore Foodbank have raised in the previous nine Tastes.

It would be a big help in the goal to net $150,000 on Wednesday, giving the event a total of $1 million over the past decade, a number that represents feeding three million children in the Greater Cincinnati area.  

"It was a blast; we all had a great time," Nugent says of last week's lunch with the specialists and The Marvinettes, Nancy and her friends Lois, Elaine and Jean. "She's so easy to talk to. I met her the first time at this thing two years ago and we talked for 10 minutes. The Bengals are always a good ice-breaker. She was telling us how she likes sitting out in the stands with the fans and doesn't like being in a box. I think that's pretty cool."

That's Nancy. She walks among the tailgaters on home Sundays and during the week if someone needs a volunteer, she's always the one with her hand up. The Marvinettes volunteered to work Lewis's golf tournament last month. They won the specialists at last year's Taste, held in October because of the lockout, but didn't get a chance to lunch until last week.

"They were so nice; they brought us flowers," says Nancy Brown, who remembers how another kicker treated them. "Shayne Graham gave us each a rose and got us a limousine. Very nice. We've had a good time with everyone."

They've come and gone, but there is always a good taste left. She notes The Ocho has just signed in Miami after a rather tumultuous Bengals run.

"We had a fun lunch with Chad and T.J. Chad was all over his phone," Nancy Brown says. "I'm sure he's happy being in Miami. I wish him the best. Bobbie Williams is so nice. We had lunch with him several times and he's a lot of fun. We love Bobbie. We had a great time with Andrew Whitworth and we were sad when (Jon) Fanene left. He was part of the group with the Samoan guys."

But no matter. Peko and Rey Maualuga are pretty persuasive. Not only do The Marvinettes win the Samoan auction Wednesday, but they also bid on the specialists and win them again. The offensive line and defensive line are won by others, but Nancy Brown is pleased.

"It sounds like they've added a couple more to each group and that's great," Nancy Brown says.

Kurt Reiber, president and CEO of the Freestore Foodbank, doesn't mind. The more the merrier.

"I was just telling Mike this tonight," Reiber says. "His partnership with our group has been outstanding. It allows us to make connections with people we wouldn't otherwise meet and to introduce the concept of feeding the hungry. And the players have been great about it. They get it."

They will also get lunch with the lady in motion.

 

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