Last Thursday, LeBron James decided to leave the Midwest for the sunshine in Miami, and with that, changed the entire landscape of professional sports in Ohio.
The Cavaliers, or more importantly James, had become the heart of the professional state. They had reached the 2007 Finals, had the best regular season record two straight seasons, and the best player in the respective sport.
For Cincinnati, basketball has not been as relevant since the days of Oscar Robertson and the Cincinnati Royals. Therefore, I write this view not from a basketball perspective, but a whole "sport-state" perspective.
The state currently has seven professional sports teams, which includes:
With LeBron now gone from the picture, there are truly only two franchises that can currently take claim at this time to being the Kings of Ohio: the Cincinnati Reds and the Cleveland Browns.
An argument could be made for the Cincinnati Bengals, but their past season of success—a divisional title—is not enough force to make up for their lean history of success.
Now, for those of you who want to argue for Ohio State, this is only an argument at the professional level, so Ohio State football is not valid within these walls of argument. That is for a collegiate debate.
In this article, I will speak of the reasons the Cleveland Browns should be considered Kings of Ohio.
To start things off, the parity that exists in the NFL today is as great as it has ever been. In any given year, a team that nobody gives a chance can run through the ruff and find themselves Super Bowl Champions. This is not what I expect of the Browns in this coming year, but it is an added bonus that you don't get in other sports.
The Indians, Reds, Blue Jackets, and Cavaliers cannot enter their seasons with the optimism that they can with the title the upcoming season unless it is clearly shown that they are a top-tier team coming in.
The Browns, no matter how dismal last year, can shake things up since they only play a 16-game regular season compared to an 82 and 162 game seasons. If the ball lands here or there a little differently, you can go from being a 5-11 team (2009 record) to making the playoffs.
The Browns were able to make some key offseason adjustments to bolster their lineup, and we're not only talking about on the field. The signing of Mike Holmgren as General Manager might be the most key acquisition of all. He threw out former starters Brady Quinn and Derek Anderson for a fresh beginning. That fresh beginning happens to go by the name of Colt McCoy.
I know, it is too early to predict great success from McCoy, but I feel he and not Jimmy Clausen will end up being the steal of the draft. I liked him coming in to the draft, and being under the tutelage of Holmgren won't hurt.
He will have to wait behind Jake Delhomme and Seneca Wallace, but I eagerly await his initial showing. If Holmgren's offensive line can grow and the defensive line can mature in Cleveland the way he got it to in Seattle, watch out!
This is all future talk, and has no immediate results by which the Browns can be fairly judged. The Browns have only made the playoffs once since they came back from being an expansion franchise and that was the bitter defeat at the hands of the Pittsburgh Steelers (2002). So, we must travel further back to the glory days of the Browns to get a full view on reasons they could be Kings of Ohio.
Reason No. 1: Jim Brown
He might be the greatest running back of all-time. I would probably go with Barry Sanders as greatest, but unlike Sanders, Brown has won a title.
When you win the NFL MVP your rookie year (1957) and your final year (1965), you're doing something right. The nine-time Pro Bowler and eight-time First Team All-Pro was thunder and lightning. By the way, 1962 was the only year he did not make First Team All-Pro.
He ended his career with 12,312 yards, ranking him first all-time at the time. The closest man to him during his era was Joe Perry. Perry, put up 9,723 yards over 15 seasons.
Brown was punishing and unrelenting. It is not hard to understand that a man with the last name Brown would be able to bring Cleveland the success of the 1964 NFL title.
Reason No. 2: Overall Success
The Cleveland Browns have brought home eight championships over the course of their existence. They have yet to bring home a Super Bowl, but from their inception of 1946 in the AAFC, they showed promise by going 12-2 and defeating the New York Yankees for the championship. The Browns all-time regular season record is 480-387-13—still almost a full 100 games over .500 even after the sluggish decade they just endured.
Reason No. 3: The Names
Paul Brown, for one, is a name that translates into success in football. During his 17 years in Cleveland, there was only one season in which his Browns did not finish better than .500. He also had seven titles to go with that mark. Not too shabby for a guy that is often forgotten for his place in the annals of NFL history.
Otto Graham does not have the greatest statistical output (174 touchdowns to 135 interceptions), but he knew how to win. Leading the Browns with his uncanny arm, he was behind center on championship teams of past. A former first round pick of the Detroit Lions in 1944, he found his way to Cleveland and made a large impact.
Ozzie Newsome, Brian Sipe, Bernie Kosar, and the overlooked Marion Motley are also among other players who helped build the Browns into winners.
John Elway might still hold a harness over the Browns for "The Drive" and people will never forget Earnest Byner and his fumble at the goal line. Those actions given, the Browns still have been impressive. Impressive enough to make an argument for Kings of Ohio.