Thursday, October 03, 2002


Don't boo 'em. Sue 'em.

        The citizens of Hamilton County should file a class-action suit against the winless Bengals.

        Put these perennial losers out of our misery. And theirs, too.

        After all, we, the taxpayers, have held up our part of the bargain. The Bengals haven't.

        We built a new $451 million stadium for Mike Brown's hapless oafs.

        And what thanks do the taxpayers get for picking up the lion's share of the tab? A loser.

        The Bengals are 0-4 for the third time in the last four seasons, the sixth in the last 12. Doomed again. Virtually eliminated from the playoffs. Chances for a winning season — slim to none.

        This isn't what Mike Brown said would happen.

        At the 1998 groundbreaking ceremonies for Paul Brown Stadium, the Bengals' boss man made a promise. He said his franchise would do its part to make the new facility a success.

        He made a daring prediction for the stadium's prime tenant.

        “It should be a winning team,” he said. “That's what we plan to do.”

        With Paul Brown Stadium as their home, the Bengals are 10-26. So much for daring predictions.

        Time for a new game plan.

Play list of remedies

        Before we, the people of Hamilton County, haul Mike Brown into court, we have to agree on what we want.

        Try these options on for size:

        Give us our money back. The Bengals pay for the rest of the stadium. It's theirs. The county gets rid of this snake-bit albatross — no more marching-band controversies — and gets millions to expand the convention center or lay miles of light-rail track.

        Hand over the team. The people would own the Bengals. Something similar works in Green Bay.

        Hire a new general manager. Without the last name of Brown in the family tree. Retire Mike and his kinfolk.

        At the very least, grow some grass on the field.

True winners

        Such a class-action lawsuit sounds reasonable to me. But then, I'm no lawyer.

        Suja Thomas is.

        So's Stan Chesley.

        I consulted them about The People v. The Bengals.

        Suja Thomas specializes in sports legal matters as an assistant professor of law at the University of Cincinnati. She's handled cases for the players associations of major-league soccer and the NFL.

        The assistant law prof called the suit “an interesting idea.”

        She feels it meets two requirements for a class-action suit: “Numerosity” and “commonality.”

        Loosely translated, that means a bunch of people are ticked off about the same thing.

        “It would take some creative lawyering to win,” she said.

        “Creative lawyering is something that should be encouraged for the right cause,” she added. “I'm not saying that this is the right cause.”

        She knows of no legal precedents for such a suit.

        “It doesn't mean it can't happen,” she said.

        So, let's break new ground. For evidence, use Mike Brown's statements at the groundbreaking.

        Not so fast, said Stan Chesley. The Cincinnati-based attorney whose name is synonymous with a mastery of class-action suits reminded me of the Bengals' knack for losing.

        “The law is crystal clear,” he said.

        “For a person to be liable, there has to be a foreseeability. It can't be something that is so absurd that you can't hold them responsible.”

        Breaking it to me gently, he said: “There was absolutely no foreseeability that we would have a winning team.”

        Stupid me. I confused the Bengals with a real team, one that could be a winner.

        Call Cliff Radel at 768-8379; or e-mail



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