Did Mike Brown help drive Hue Jackson to the Cleveland Browns?
By Thomas Moore
The Cleveland Browns surprised many by landing Hue Jackson as head coach and may have some help from the Cincinnati Bengals.
The Cleveland Browns and Cincinnati Bengals have carried on a rivalry since 1970 that, at times, has been as emotionally charged as the one between the Browns and Pittsburgh Steelers.
The seed was planted following the 1962 season when former Browns owner Art Modell fired Hall of Fame head coach Paul Brown, who in 17 years had led the franchise to seven league titles and just one losing season. That seed germinated for eight years before blossoming when the Browns and Bengals were placed in the newly formed AFC North Division in 1970.
While the two teams have been on different trajectories for the past decade – although it warrants pointing out that the Browns have won a playoff game more recently than the Bengals – a new chapter in the 46-year in-state rivalry may be beginning, all thanks to Brown’s son, Bengals owner Mike Brown.
The Bengals and head coach Marvin Lewis agreed to a contract extension on Friday after some lengthy negotiating between the two sides. It was during the negotiations that things got interesting, at least from the Browns standpoint, as Lewis wanted to find a way to keep Jackson in Cincinnati.
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“With Hue Jackson, his offensive coordinator, a hot head coaching candidate, Marvin Lewis went to Hue Jackson and together they hatched a plan that would have kept Hue Jackson on with a two-year succession plan at which point Marvin Lewis would step down,” according to NFL Network’s Michael Silver. “They went and shopped that to owner Mike Brown, who did not want to put that in writing.”
If it is true that Brown was reluctant to create a succession plan, that could help explain why Jackson chose to take over the Browns as opposed to some other opportunities that many considered more attractive – and are certainly more stable. Getting revenge on Brown and the Bengals would not be the sole reason for Jackson to take a job, of course, but it certainly would be considered a little bit of icing on the cake if he can return the Browns to prominence as it will come at the expense of the Bengals.
At the very least it helps turn up the heat on a rivalry that has run a bit cold in recent years and makes the twice-a-year meetings between the two clubs that much more exciting.