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Mike Brown may shy from nostalgia, but he sees a day when Bengals won't

CINCINNATI -- Back in the days just before the Cincinnati Bengals had their own publicly funded stadium, team president Mike Brown mulled over what to call his team's new home.

As far as he was concerned, there were only two options: Bengals Stadium and the one that stuck, Paul Brown Stadium.

"I love my father," Brown said Tuesday about the building's late namesake, a Pro Football Hall of Famer. "He would have told me, 'Don't do that.' So I did it anyway.

"In a weak moment, I succumbed."

Aside from its name that exists in multiple nondescript places around the stadium, there is little else on the grounds that hearkens back to Bengals days gone by. There is no team Hall of Fame. No Ring of Honor. No statues. No plaques in tribute to players of the past. Other than the memories, there are only a few wall coverings and pictures of Bengals of bygone eras hanging in concourses and plazas.

That's just the way Mike Brown has wanted it the past 15 years. But he said Tuesday he can see a day when that changes. Some of the tokens of appreciation former players have been long anxious to see may one day arrive.

"We have never traded here on nostalgia," Mike Brown said. "That's probably my fault. Because a little of it is a good thing. Fans like that sort of thing. What I'm saying is I'm stewing on it. I'm aware of the discomfort with our position.

"Maybe someone who comes after me can do better with this."

In recent years, the 79-year-old owner has relinquished much of the daily operation of the team to his daughter, executive vice president Katie Blackburn.

Mike Brown said he and others in team management have discussed tweaking the newly installed HD-ribbon board on the facing of the upper deck to provide a place where names of recognition might one day go. The fact is, for the 15 years Paul Brown Stadium has been open, there hasn't been much space inside the stadium to provide that recognition, he said.

"I understand the players. They want to be remembered," Mike Brown said. "It is a good thing to do that."

It's also worth mentioning there's relatively little signage in and around the stadium directed toward the marketing of current players, too.

So why hasn't he ever "traded on nostalgia"?

"It's me. It's in my bones," Mike Brown said. "Like everyone, I tend to look backward some, but I'm always focused on what's coming next. We've had decades now of wonderful players here. I can understand why people feel we should have celebrated them more and perpetuated their achievements better than we have. I'm probably at fault."