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Paycor Stadium Ushers Bengals And Cincinnati Into New Chapter

Paycor Stadium.
Paycor Stadium.

Since Bengals president Mike Brown counseled Paul Brown to settle his AFL franchise in Cincinnati, the 1967 blueprint of bringing a winner to southwest Ohio has gone through seven decades of change on the downtown riverfront.

Now, it is going through one of the biggest rides as the Paycor Stadium era begins.

With the roster of their defending AFC champions teeming with emerging young stars and the team's brand exploding across the pro sports landscape after a rousing Super Bowl run, Mike Brown had his father in mind and their commitment to the town when he watched the last walk-through at Paul Brown Stadium on Monday.

The river rolls on.

"It will help the franchise do some things that needed to be done," Brown said of the revenue from the naming rights deal. "It will help us some with players and managing the (salary) cap going forward. We need to stay competitive with other, often bigger, NFL markets' revenue. This will boost us up a little and that will be helpful."

The deal with a local company fits the blueprint. Paycor's headquarters has been in Cincinnati for more than 30 years and for the past four years the human capital management firm has been the club's official and exclusive HR software provider. Like the Bengals, Paycor is seen as an ascending prime mover. It just ended its first year as a public company.

"They're a good company on the rise. A local company and as we've talked to them over time, we have gown to respect them as we understand more about them," Brown said.

Brown was there when the Bengals traded for their first player in a 1967 day-after Christmas deal. He was there a few months later when they made Tennessee center Bob Johnson their first pick in the 1968 common draft. A long way from $50 million a year quarterbacks and $30 million a year wide receivers, but Paul Brown's presence continues to dominate.

Above the walk-through is his name in the middle of the Bengals Ring of Honor on the stadium's east facade. His incredible coaching legacy lives on through the annual Paul Brown Excellence in Coaching Award that celebrates high school football coaches and their impact on young men. The newly renovated Paul Brown conference room in the lobby of the Bengals offices houses memorabilia with some of his quotes on the wall. The iconic 'Paul E. Brown' signature is sewn into each game jersey.

"I don't think it impacts how others feel about him," Brown said. "At least the ones that have the opportunity to know a little about his life and career."

Elizabeth Blackburn, the Bengals director of strategy and engagement and Paul Brown's great-grand daughter, has grown up amid the history and believes it has to be one of the trappings of the future.

"Paul Brown's legacy will live on forever," Blackburn said. "He is in every facemask, in every airwave as coaches speak to players on headset, and in the notes football players take in their playbooks. His passion for winning, teamwork and excellence is carried on by his family and underlies the entire Bengals organization every day."

The river rolls on. The first game at Paycor is just a few days away in the preseason opener. Bengals vs. Cardinals. Friday at 7:30 p.m.

"The only constant is change, and my father built his career on changing the game and the business of football. I think that today's step is positive change that helps us compete where we want to – on the football field," Brown said.