Recently the Cincinnati Enquirer published an article concerning the released testimony of Bengals President Mike Brown.
This testimony was during a lawsuit filed by the children of Dutch Knowlton. The Knowlton family believed there was a conflict of interest between Mike Brown and their father's estate being represented by the same law firm.
I spent an entire night (like a complete loser) reading the transcript. The notes of a guy with absolutely no legal background follow.
- Mike Brown doesn't know, or believe it's necessary to know what positions his family members hold in the Bengals front office and does not recall how many bonuses those family members received over the years.
- Mike Brown cannot recall the specific job history of two of the family members he employs to engage in contract negotiations with players.
- Mike Brown admitted there's no one representing the second largest shareholder of the Bengals on the board of directors.
- Mike Brown admits the same law firm that formerly employed Katie and Troy Blackburn is also represents the Brown family shares of the Bengals. It also was the law firm that represented the estate of the late Dutch Knowlton, the second largest shareholder of the Bengals.
- When the lawyers representing the Knowlton family tried to ask Mike Brown about the dealings of a particular board meeting in 1997, the defense objected and immediately sighted the suspicion of a naming rights debate.
- During a bench conference the judge, not wanting to delve into a previously addressed legal matter, chose to block the points of the unestablished argument of the 1997 board meeting.
- The question was eventually vague enough to address only former disagreements between Mike Brown and Dutch Knowlton, Mike Brown could remember having disagreements with Dutch Knowlton but they could not be recalled specifically.
- Mike Brown repeatedly says he does not recall numerous letters from Dutch Knowlton that objected his actions concerning the Bengals management during the 1990's.
- Mike Brown did not object to the same firm representing his share of the Bengals also representing the shares of Dutch Knowlton. (Surprise!)
- During the examination by Mike Brown's attorney, he could easily recall the exchanges between Dutch Knowlton's representation in earlier years. Whereas during examination of the Knowlton family's representation, Brown repeatedly couldn't remember disputes with Knowlton or presented letters with Knowlton.
I believe that Mike Brown has spent most of his time surrounding himself with outstanding attorneys rather than investing that time and money into football talent evaluators or qualified front office staff. In other words, he has built a legal shield to protect himself from any actions that would affect his income and the way he chooses to (cheaply) run the franchise.
I can't decide how I feel about the Knowlton children. They were estranged from their father and were excluded from his will. It's possible they were looking to get a cut of his estate instead of purely suing for the sake of their father's foundation, which is where most of Knowlton's fortune is invested.
The fact still remains that before Dutch Knowlton's death, he sold 60 shares of his Bengals stock to Mike Brown for far below the market value. This is odd because Dutch Knowlton and Mike Brown rarely agreed on anything, yet this transaction gave Mike Brown further control over the team.
Attorney Charles Lindberg was the trustee of Knowlton's foundation, which held the Bengals shares, and also represented Mike Brown at the time of the exchange. I find this fact to be curious. However, the jury upheld the will of Knowlton.
I'm no legal expert but it seems Mike Brown is a scary judge of legal talent. This law suit, Todd Portune's law suit and even the negotiations of the stadium deal all prove that Mike Brown is one hell of a lawyer. If only he were as good at identifying grid iron ability as he is at finding legal ability we might not have had to suffer through nearly two decades of pathetic football.