Paul Brown's Ghost
“Jonathan Knight draws a demarcation line between victory and defeat, success and shame, in his story of the tangled rivalry of the Browns and Bengals. The great divide was the death a generation ago of Paul Brown, the founding father of both franchises and of modern pro football. A shared ghost haunting both teams is as good an explanation as any for why fans of both teams have so often screamed ‘Boo.’”
—Bill Livingston, former Plain Dealer sports columnist
“Jonathan Knight has done it again. He’s scored a touchdown with his masterful—and detailed—synopsis of the Browns-Bengals rivalry, delving all the way back to before the two teams even played their first game against one another in 1970, back to Paul Brown’s beginnings as a coach that paved the way for him to eventually create both franchises. From the heated 1970s to the apex of the rivalry in the late 1980s to some very bleak periods since Brown’s death in 1991, Knight brings to life the highs and lows, the ebbs and flows, of Ohio’s professional football rivalry.”
—Roger Gordon, author of Cleveland Browns A-Z and Cincinnati Bengals Facts & Trivia
“Paul Brown was one of the faces on the Mount Rushmore of NFL coaches. Because of the great respect everyone had for him, and the history he had with both teams, whenever the Browns played the Bengals, there was always a different feeling leading up to the game. Jonathan Knight successfully captures that feeling in his book, which explores how Paul Brown’s legacy created and still shapes the Browns-Bengals rivalry.”
—Doug Dieken, Browns broadcaster and longtime offensive lineman
Paul Brown was a football genius and the father of two NFL franchises—the Cleveland Browns, who carry his name, and the Cincinnati Bengals.
Arguably the most important figure in the history of the sport, he was a renowned coach and owner, and when he passed away on August 5, 1991, the game lost a giant. But for the Browns and Bengals, his death would herald a new era of bad luck, poor judgment, and comic folly that soon had fans whispering about a curse.
Paul Brown’s Ghost explores the mystery surrounding the greatest ghost story in NFL history: why these two once-proud franchises have been perpetually denied good fortune in such dramatic, yet different ways—as if they’re being haunted by their mutual patriarch.
Jonathan Knight takes readers through a haunted house filled with tales that explain the fraternal—almost biblical—connection between the teams. He examines the colorful characters and memorable moments that both defined and defiled the history of a rivalry that evolved from three decades of bad blood between Brown and Cleveland owner Art Modell.
From coaches they shared to draft picks they both lusted after, the Browns and Bengals are connected in ways even their die-hard fans may not realize. Readers will discover the key role the Bengals played in the original Browns’ move to Baltimore, how the Browns were instrumental in the Bengals’ financially crippling new stadium deal, and how the Bengals actually almost became the new Browns.
Through the lens of the enduring legacy of one of football’s pioneers, Paul Brown’s Ghost is a witty, whimsical look at decades of absurd incompetence set against the offbeat rivalry between football’s two most hard-luck teams.