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Orlando Brown Jr. Hopes Old School Ways Help Bengals To More New Heights

Bengals new free agent Orlando Brown Jr. and Bengals Offensive Line/Run Game Coordinator Frank Pollack smile at the camera on March 17th, 2023.
Bengals new free agent Orlando Brown Jr. and Bengals Offensive Line/Run Game Coordinator Frank Pollack smile at the camera on March 17th, 2023.

After he had flourished the signature "Orlando Brown Jr.," on one of the most significant contracts in the Zac Taylor Era, after he had told the Cincinnati media one of the great Chad Johnson stories of all time, after he had talked to the nation on Sirius NFL Radio, Orlando Brown Jr. lit up at Bengals offensive line coach Frank Pollack's suggestion as a St. Patrick's Friday rolled into mid-day.

"Want to go up and watch some ball? Take a look at the playbook?" asked Pollack, looking to get the perennial Pro Bowl tackle in his upstairs office.

"That's just what he's been waiting for," said Jammal Brown, no relation, Orlando's long-time mentor.

Jammal Brown should know. He's one of the reasons Orlando decided to wear No. 75 for the Bengals.

Orlando Brown Jr. wore No. 78 with the Ravens to honor the No. 77 his dad wore playing for the Browns and Ravens in the '90s and at the turn of the century.

When he got traded to the Chiefs, he couldn't wear No. 78 because it belonged to Hall-of-Famer Bobby Bell. So he wore "57," because it had seven for his father and a five for Jammal, who wore No. 55 at Oklahoma as a right tackle when he won the 2004 Outland Trophy as the best lineman in the country.

On Friday, with the Bengals' No. 78 belonging to another Hall-of-Famer, Anthony Munoz, and No. 57 belonging to veteran linebacker Germaine Pratt, Orlando Brown flipped the numbers to "75," since the guy who had it, right tackle Isaiah Prince, is no longer on the roster.

The fact that Jammal Brown is by Orlando's side on this tour that began in New York Thursday with national media appearances tells you a lot about the newest Bengal.

Jammal was the 13th pick in the 2005 draft by the Saints and during his last year in the league, 2011, he lost his friend Orlando Brown Sr. The elder Orlando was only 40, a victim of complications of diabetes. His son was just 15 and it hit home for Jammal because his mother died when he was in high school.

"I was "The Blindside," story before "The Blindside," said Jammal of the movie about the childhood struggles of future NFL tackle Michael Oher. "When my mother died, I had a lady come take care of me. What happened to Orlando, I just felt in my heart I had to come and help because I knew his dad. He moved to Atlanta (from Baltimore) to be with his mother and we talked from there.

"Be in his life. Help him get it right. When he went to Oklahoma, I still have a home in Norman and we got real close."

Jammal got to know Orlando Sr. through their agent, Tom Condon. Orlando, ten years older than Jammal, was always supportive, beginning with, "You're the best right tackle in college football," and coaxing him on with, "We're both named Brown, we have to stick together." Jammal worked at a camp in Baltimore with him.

So he knew how close Orlando was to his son and how he would tell Junior to watch the left side of the Ravens line and not the right.

"He does a lot of things for his father. He always wanted to please him," Jammal Brown said. "His dad wanted his son to be the best. So his dad would have him watch (Hall of Fame left tackle) Jonathan Ogden and not even watch him. He'd say, 'He's the best. Watch this guy.'"

On Friday, Orlando Brown Jr. told the media how his dad felt he wasn't recognized on the right side and urged him to play the more high-profile left side. It's an argument Bengals fans know well in Bengals Ring of Honor member Willie Anderson's bid for the Hall of Fame. Anderson was the best right tackle of Orlando Brown Sr.'s time, but five left tackles whose career crossed Anderson's (Ogden, Walter Jones, Willie Roaf, Orlando Pace, Tony Boselli) are in while Anderson waits.

So Orlando Brown Jr., didn't watch Anderson or his dad. He watched the left tackles, including two Bengals legends, Munoz and Andrew Whitworth.

"I have a two-year-old son, and I preach to him, even though he might not understand, to be better than me," said Orlando Brown of the grandson. "That was something our dad was big on in our household. He was a right tackle for 13 years and for a long time he felt like he never got his gratification because of that. And, not necessarily blocking the premier guys. As a young child, I set out to be a premier left tackle in this league. I studied Jonathan Ogden. I studied Andrew Whitworth. I watched Tony Boselli, Anthony Munoz even, so to be here in this position, it's just crazy."

Jammal Brown thinks he's found a homey spot in Cincinnati.

"It's a great spot for him. He can come in and play a system he's somewhat familiar with. He's played both ends of the spectrum," Jammal Brown said. "He's played in a Lamar (Jackson) offense and played in a pass-happy offense with Pat Mahomes that has a real deep drop that gets the ball downfield and things like that. I feel here it will be more mixed in with pass and runs and short game and things like that."

Orlando Brown Jr. is quite comfortable returning to the AFC North. His Old School education and style wouldn't have it any other way.

"I feel like I'm more of an old-school player than anybody in the league right now. That's what makes me so different," he said. "Just my lack of athleticism, my size. I'm a chip off the old block. There are not a lot of guys out there like me and I've been below the line my entire career and my entire life, to be honest. But I think what's allowed me to put myself in this position is that old-school mindset that's been instilled in me from my father, my mentor Jammal and it's one of the reasons I'm here."

Brown almost single-handedly killed the NFL scouting combine in 2018 when a poor 40-yard dash time and clumsy drills broke the computer and spit out four Pro Bowls.

But Pollack is a bit uncomfortable with all that.

"He's the caliber of player who could fit in anytime with the league. He's talented. Don't let the, 'I'm not athletic,' line fool you," Pollack said. "He's a big guy and he can move. It's impressive. You've got to have a measure of feet to play in space and balance and he's got that. He's really coordinated with his feet and hands working at the same time independently with his hands. He's very impressive."

Old school?

How many 26-year-old guys can tell you about the day right outside the news conference door 190-pound Bengals wide receiver Chad Johnson jumped on the back of his dad, a 360-pound man with the nickname Zeus?

"Oh, I know the whole story about that. As far as I know, my dad was warming up pregame out here and I think it was Paul Brown Stadium," Orlando Brown recalled. "And I can't remember whom he was talking to, but my dad is warming up and he's real rough and rugged guy. When it came game day, I couldn't even talk to him as his son.

"So he didn't mess around. And believe it or not, Chad Johnson jumps on his back. And my dad's chasing him around the field. And they say the visual is Chad Johnson backpedaling around the stadium in a circle. 'Hey, I'm just playing. I'm just kidding.' And long story short, my dad chases him into the locker room. Police had to stop him from getting in a locker room. Team security came out and grabbed him. I could only imagine how mad he was. I couldn't even ask for a handshake on game day."

More from Young Zeus (you can't say Little):

On playing with Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow:

"You could say I'm spoiled with coming up in the football world with the teams I've been on, with the guys I've played with. But, being able to play with a guy like Nine, that's a tough opportunity to pass up knowing we're both the same age and at similar points in our careers."

On the Bengals' toughest best rushers he's faced in nine games across five years against them:

"Nine One (Trey Hendrickson) is one of the best in the game and I'm happy I'm on his side of it now. I look forward to competing against him."

On Oklahoma line mate Cody Ford, signed by the Bengals after being told he'll compete for the right tackle job:

"You're getting a big body guy that is really hungry and has a really, really big chip on his shoulder obviously how things went in Buffalo and Arizona and I know he's been working really, really hard. He's physical, he loves to put guys on the ground, and plays with a lot of energy. He's got this infectious work ethic. I remember him coming in when he was a young player. He was one of the few, like Creed Humphrey, they threw in with the big guys right away. When most guys come in as freshmen, they're with the freshmen group. Cody was with the big guys right away."

With the arrival of Brown and Ford, reports surfaced Friday that incumbent left tackle Jonah Williams has asked the Bengals to trade him. But Pollack said he thinks Williams has what it takes to switch and be in the competition at right tackle.

"There will be a little bit of a transition, but he's athletic, he's a smart player, he's a really good player. I think he should have no problem doing that with reps and concentrating," Pollack said. "He's got a whole offseason. Guys have been asked to do that all the time. There is a little transition going from left to right. I'd say it would be a little smoother than going from tackle to guard. He's a good player. He's smart. He's athletic. He understands what he does best. He's a technician-type player, so I think he can do it and have no problem transitioning to that side."