Pete (left) and Mike Brown: they saw more than 100 years of Senior Bowl practices combined.
MOBILE, Ala. - Tuesday morning's weigh-in at the Reese's Senior Bowl is a significant one for the Bengals personnel contingent. It's the first one since the death of Pete Brown, the club's senior vice president of player personnel who died last month at 74 after more than 50 years of scouting.
By now in the draft process Brown would have the board of senior players virtually memorized and already whittled down to succinct sound bites. Height, weight, speed, and, most importantly, his opinion. While Brown and director of player personnel Duke Tobin shaped the big-picture view, they began introducing the coaches to the best prospects. So did the other scouts as they continued to deal with their own areas.
"You get used to having that big sounding board. We feel the loss," Tobin said Monday night.
Feeling the biggest loss is Bengals president Mike Brown, who talked to his younger brother about all aspects of life and football. But particularly prospects.
"Pete was an integral part of the Bengals from their conception. I date back with him more than 50 years," said Mike Brown, opting to stay back in Cincinnati this week after cleaning up a whirlwind overhaul to the coaching staff. "He had a mind that digested all the information on players and he could regurgitate it. You could ask him about pretty much anybody and he would have an opinion with detail in mind. He still did that even to the very end.
"For me it's a real loss," Brown said. "A lot of what we talked about was players. I would ask his opinion about them. He would give it to me. It was helpful to me. I could discuss it with him. Why this one and not that one? He'd have a quick answer. An immediate answer."
Tobin takes pride in forming a staff that, like the best rosters, has a mix of veterans and youth. They still have the 60 years of Mike Brown and the nearly 50 years of area scout Bill Tobin on the personnel side. Duke Tobin, Tobin's son, is in his third decade in the business. Area scouts Steven Radicevic and Mike Potts are in their first decade but also bring other NFL experience as well as personnel work on the college level.
"We have gone through that transition," Brown said. "While Pete was alive we were doing that. He understood and accepted it."
Duke Tobin is turning to his staff.
"There are things you can't replace. It's different," Tobin said. "But you have to move on and we've got guys that can fill the void. We're going to have to lean on and rely on them. We've got a good mix of experience and they're talented."