Elizabeth Blackburn, Director of Strategy & Engagement, Cincinnati Bengals


The oldest child of Bengals’ vice presidents Katie and Troy Blackburn and the granddaughter of Bengals president Mike Brown, Elizabeth Blackburn has been football-obsessed since before she can remember. When the family recently cleaned out its basement, they found her fifth grade autobiography project: a 30-plus page book dedicated to her love of football.

“I remember growing up wanting to win the Super Bowl and wanting to work for the team,” Blackburn says. “My entire career and work experience has been to make sure I was doing it because it wasn’t assumed of me. That was probably the hardest part. Making sure I wanted to do it and that I could actually help.”

While Blackburn followed her grandfather and mother to Dartmouth College in Hanover, N.H., it was actually the first place she had ever been where no one knew her as the kid that could wind up running the Bengals one day. She was just the freshman girl from Cincinnati standing up at a frat party to defend Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton.

But there was never any debate about this. No matter where she was or what she was doing, it kept coming up Bengals, Cincinnati and football.

An Economics and Engineering double major, Blackburn first finished off her economics degree with a paper comparing NFL ticketing data to the economic tradeoffs between the 85 percent blackout rule and secondary pricing market. Then she capped her engineering degree inventing an app that offered a second screen during a live game to teach new NFL fans the rules and positions that her great grandfather all but invented.

When she went to San Francisco to work for the management consulting firm Bain & Co., she became drawn to co-workers from Midwest towns like Indianapolis.

Peter Ruocco , an NFL senior vice president for all things labor and salary cap, hosted her in a three-month internship while she was working at Bain. Blackburn also put in three months in Chris Halpin’s fledgling strategy and development office, but it was the Management Council that named her program that she developed “The Burn System,” after her.

Ruocco says Blackburn used her “extensive computer skills” to allow them to value every number or dollar amount related to collective bargaining with the push of a button.

To read the full article on the Bengals website click HERE


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