11/19/14 by Matthew S. Vandriak
At the end of summer, I stated that the new epicenter of professional sports was Clevelend, Ohio. Some of it was sarcasm, some of it wasn't. But the main reasons Cleveland was in the sporting world spotlight was because of three things.
1. LeBron James return to the Cavaliers.
2. The Cavs expected success with his return.
3. The Browns drafting Johnny Manziel.
But here's the thing...besides LeBron's return, what was anticipated with the other two things really haven't been that big of a deal. Perhaps there should be a #4 on this list which may be the biggest news of all things Cleveland sports. The Browns are in playoff contention and in a battle for first place in the AFC North. No that's not a typo. I'm not making that up. As a matter of fact, the Browns had sole possession of first place before Week 11 of the NFL season. Yes really, those Browns. The same Browns who haven't been in sole possession of first place in any division since 1995. The same Browns who have made the playoffs just once since returning to Cleveland in 1999. The same Browns who have had 20 different guys start at quarterback since their return to the NFL. The same Browns who haven't won a championship since 1964. The same Browns who...well you get the drift. Yes, the Browns have been the talk of the town...and professional sports nation as well.
But it has nothing to do with #3 on that list. No, "Johnny Football", despite all of the hype, has had nothing to do with the Browns success this season. Despite all of the thought that it wasn't a matter of if, but when, Manziel would start at quarterback, it's been Brian Hoyer under center all season in Cleveland. Who'd of thunk it?!? If the Browns were going to make any noise or get any kind of national spotlight, it was going to be because Johnny Manziel was going to either bring them back to relevance, or fall flat on his face. But really, he's not even a chapter in the Browns 2014 regular season story book. Well at least not yet.
As for LeBron and the Cavs, despite all of the predictions that they were ready to roll the Eastern Conference, they didn't exactly set the rivers, I mean world, on fire coming out of the gates. The Cavs started 1 and 3, but have won their past 4 games since. On top of that, there were rumors that Kevin Love already wants out of Cleveland. Love recently dismissed those rumors, but that isn't quite the way Cavs imagined the season starting.
Look, maybe everything in the world will right itself in the long run. Maybe LeBron will get the Cavs on track and they will run away with Central Division title and end up winning the Eastern Conference. Maybe "The King" will make the triumphant return Clevelanders are hoping for, and bring the city their first professional sports championship in 50 years. And maybe the Browns will become the Browns again by hitting a losing streak, watching the bottom fall out of this season, and seeing "Johnny Football" under center before seasons end.
Whatever happens, here we are nearly at Thanksgiving, and Cleveland is still relevant in the world of sports. It's just not quite the way that anybody why it would be.
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