CINCINNATI (April 14, 2006) -- Bengals owner Mike Brown went out of his way to defend Buffalo Bills owner Ralph Wilson, who contends that the NFL's new collective-bargaining agreement hurts small-market clubs.
Brown set up a meeting with reporters and said he was upset with the personal attacks on Wilson, who is a close friend. Critics have called Wilson out of touch for voting against the agreement because he didn't fully understand it.
"If they want to debate him on the issue, fine," said Brown, the only other owner to vote "no." "But I don't buy into this stuff where they want to undercut his opinion with fallacious, ad hominem attacks.
"Ralph Wilson is 87 years old. He is probably close to the same age as Justice (John Paul) Stevens on the Supreme Court. You can be 87 years old and very strong mentally, and he is. And to say these things that have been bubbling up about him bothers me."
The labor deal, which runs through the 2011 season, will add about $900 million to the players' compensation pool and substantially increase the salary cap.
The agreement also includes a revenue-sharing component. The 15 teams with the most revenue will be required to pay into the pool.
Brown agrees with Wilson that the bottom fourth of NFL teams could struggle financially under the agreement. He said the Bengals have risen out of the bottom fourth, but are still in the bottom half in revenues.
"We do better with the market that we have given to us than -- I could start naming teams: Houston, Dallas and some of the other large-market teams -- when you consider what we generate out of our market compared to what they generate out of theirs," Brown said.
Brown worries that the big-market teams will be able to avoid sharing revenue by rigging the criteria for smaller teams to get the money.
"If you do it artfully, you can come out at the back end with, guess what? No money gets paid out, or very little does," Brown said. "And it just accumulates there to be distributed to guess whom? The guys who paid it in."
The Associated Press News Service
Copyright 2006, The Associated Press, All Rights Reserved