What your view of sports and life would be if you had too many concussions
The outcry from the media over the Cincinnati Bengals decision to re-sign head coach Marvin Lewis to a 2-year contract has been a cacophony which is the perfect example showing the death of critical thinking in the American sports media.
The biggest of these noise-makers comes from the sewer right under ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith’s nose. He couldn’t help but spout his usual superlatives; speaking in terms like “disgraceful,” “no excuse for it,” and “the Bengals clearly don’t care about their fans.” I don’t want to turn this into a graduate-level course on comparative philosophy, and I’m certainly not here to defend “Messy Marvin.” There’s a reason why I recently compared him to The Hindenburg.
Rather I want raise a simple question. What happened to critical thinking in this country? Americans now are at a point that whenever they encounter a situation they may not agree with, the entire discussion about it becomes exactly that which Smith did. It’s all a lot of pointless labeling, name-calling, and a hyperbolic rush to judgement. Specific to the Marvin Lewis case, I’m raising this point because instead of shouting “that’s a disgrace,” I’m asking “Why would Bengals ‘owner Mike Brown do that?”
After all, Brown is the head of an organization worth possibly of couple of billion dollars; it stands to reason this is a guy who might have reasons for such a decision. By using just a small bit of critical thinking, I can see three plausible reasons why Mike Brown brought Lewis back.
1) He’s Being Loyal
Face it, Marv is the winningest coach in franchise history. That includes Mike Brown’s father and club founder Paul. Yeah, I get Forrest Gregg and Sam Wyche both got this franchise to AFC Championship games, but how long were either of them around? Lewis is heading for his sixteenth season in Cincinnati, and perhaps Mike Brown decided that Lewis earned a new deal. After all, it’s not like this team has a long-standing tradition of winning; the argument can be made that that during the Marv era, the Bengals have been consistently better for longer than in any other similar period in the franchise’s history. More importantly, for every mediocre-to-not-completely shitty coach like those three, how many Dave Shula-types have there been?
That’s actually the set-up for the next point.
2) Mediocre Is Better Than Lousy, But In the NFL, Both Are Profitable
There’s a couple of important points to ponder here.
If you’re an NFL owner/general manager contemplating firing the coach, you might want to have somebody in mind to replace him. Not to mention, if you’re going to fire a guy whose biggest crime is being mediocre, you really can’t hire a low-budget unknown. Obviously, Brown’s not going to break the bank for a Jon Gruden-type even if he could get somebody like that to come to Cincinnati. He’s likely not even willing go Rex “Wal-Mart Gruden” Ryan.
Lewis is coming off a 7-9 season which featured a strong finish killing the dreams of two potential play-off teams. If the guy the Bengals bring in takes the team to 3-13 only makes matters worse. Let’s face it, the “Marv Must Go” crowd is hanging it’s hat on an 0-7 record in the play-offs, and the long knives will come out quickly for the guy who can’t even get to January.
This is the part where the “Bengals don’t care about their fans” bit plays, but that line only holds water until you subject it to a bit of critical thinking.
Stephen A. Smith’s argument rests on the fact the Bengals rank third to last in attendance behind the Chargers and the Browns. The problem is the NFL as a whole doesn’t care about attendance because the take at the gate has long since been surpassed by television revenue as the league’s life-blood. If attendance were critical to the league’s success, the NFL would have never let the Chargers move into a 27,000 seat soccer stadium.
Specific to Cincinnati, Mike Brown collects a share of the NFL TV money kitty whether the Bengals put butts in the seats or not.
If you said winning championships…well, that’s why you’re a fan and not a billionaire owner. Jerry Jones is in the Hall of Fame because he made a lot of money for a lot of people. But he’s also the poster-child for the complete non-connection between winning and franchise value. Jones’ Dallas Cowboys are valued at just a shade under $5 billion dollars, and they haven’t won a Super Bowl in two decades. Mike Brown could sell the Bengals tomorrow and likely get about $2.5 billion for the franchise. That’s not too shabby for an original investment of $8 million.
3) He doesn’t want to get called a “racist”
Ironically, you don’t need critical thinking to picture how this could have gone down. The day before the Bengals re-signed Lewis, the Lions fired Jim Caldwell for commuting the same “crime” as Lewis; being mediocre. After that, if the Bengals had fired Messy Marvin, Stephen A. Smith’s could have easily pivoted his “disgraceful” narrative to the old saw about “the NFL doesn’t have enough black coaches,” especially given the fact that’s the same day ESPN launched it’s narrative about the Raiders essentially ignoring the “Rooney Rule” in the pursuit of Jon Gruden.
The Bottom Line
The bottom line is Stephen A. Smith is simply the bell-cow for a bunch of lame-stream media noise-holes who were forced to eat the stories they had pre-written about the demise of Marvin Lewis. You can search this very blog and see plenty of times we had Marv dead and buried. But we were wrong, and we have the cojoñes to admit that. The difference between the most interesting independent sports blog on the web and the World Wide Bottom Feeder is that we have the stones to take an honest look at views which fall outside of our own.
That’s what critical thinking is all about, and the “lame-stream” media’s ability to do that is clearly in critical condition.