Brown welcomes Jerry to the Hall

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Mike Brown salutes new Hall-of-Famer Jerry Jones.

Sometimes, you just never know.

Jerry Jones has a party bus when his team goes on the road. Mike Brown's idea of a party is taking the team bus to the game.

Brown, owner of the Bengals, and Jones, owner of the Cowboys, are at the opposite ends of the NFL board room. Jones is inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame Thursday night because he introduced the corporate culture to the league that fueled its meteoric rise to the revered role of national past time at the turn of the century. All the while Brown saw the injection of business into the game as  a threat to the existence of small markets where teams like his Bengals reside.

But that didn't stop Brown from putting an ad in the program for the induction ceremonies congratulating Jones on his arrival in Canton.

Believe it or not, these guys are heated rivals 9-to-5, but friends any other time.

"He changed things. You can agree or don't agree. But he did it," Brown said this week. "I admire him for bringing change to the league. I like him immensely. I always have. We might not see things eye-to-eye all the time, but it never interferes with our relationship."

It turns out that Brown and his family helped inspire Jones. When Jones bought the Cowboys in 1989, he kept an eye on Cincinnati's father-son team of Paul and Mike Brown. When Bengals.com reached out to the Cowboys back in April looking to talk to Jones about Brown as the Bengals unveiled their 50th season, Jones was on the horn in two days.

"I give Mike Brown an A-plus for people skills. That might surprise some people," Jones said in the spring. "That is being clear on where you stand. Knowing that's where you are and you don't have to worry about it when it leaves the room or behind your back. You know where it stands. Mike Brown has been an inspiration from the day I wanted to sit with the Brown family."

Jones finds sustenance in the long-time owners and likes the context and tradition they offer while he's beating the windmills.

"He was built for football. He won't quit. He absolutely won't quit," Jones said. "He's been a real asset to the league. We don't have a smarter owner in the league. We do not. He's not stubborn. On some issues he's stood up and said, 'Jerry, I'm changing my mind. I'm with you.' He's very strong-willed. Bright lines. He draws bright lines on many issues. But he leaves you and him in a feel-good spot. That's very artful."

So it's not all that surprising when Jones saw the ad in the program he reached out to Brown.

"I was pleased. He called and thanked me," Brown said. "I liked that. I thought it was a nice gesture."

Usually if they're just talking, it will be about their  teams or the game. Brown says when they served on the NFL Competition Committee together they almost always agreed on football moves.

 But not this time.

"We just talked about him going into the Hall of Fame," Brown said. "It's a great honor in our business."

Sometimes, you just never know.

 

Cincinnati Bengals host Training Camp at Paul Brown Stadium Practice Fields 8/3/2017

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