Yesterday, I ran with an idea from 92.3 the Fan and asked our readers to rank the Top 5 current Cleveland sports figures who had the most star power.
There were a couple of reasons for me posting that: First, it makes for good offseason discussion. Second, my intent was to segue it into something more narrowly focused on the Browns.
When including all sports, most of the responses included LT Joe Thomas somewhere. CB Joe Haden found his name on a few ballots, and then a stray vote was thrown in the direction of WR Josh Gordon. Overall, the message was clear: the Cavaliers, Indians, and to some extent, WWE and UFC, have more star-studded names than the Browns do.
I thought about my own list for awhile, and it was tough to decide. The “star power” criteria was open to interpretation. Some people valued it within Cleveland only, while others tried to look at it from a national perspective. I leaned toward the national perspective, where names like Stipe Miocic from UFC and The Miz from WWE jumped into my mind.
However, the more I thought about it, I thought less about including Miocic. I’ve become a UFC fan over the past two years, and have watched the main card of every PPV during that stretch. But I still have trouble remembering some of the fighter’s names — or when I do recognize a name, I have to look them up on Wikipedia to recall what their last decision was. When Miocic first won the Heavyweight title, I had no idea who the guy was — and although I cheered for his title defenses with fully-invested emotion, that’s because of the local perspective. Conor McGregor is the national sensation in UFC, but I don’t think many casual national fans would know who Miocic is. The same applies for The Miz. With both guys, I think the association to Cleveland is important too — not many national fans probably recognize either guy as being affiliated with Cleveland.
Here is what my list would have looked like:
- LeBron James
- Kyrie Irving
- Kevin Love
- Joe Thomas
- Francisco Lindor
I had to think hard long-and-hard about whether Thomas should be included. However, he’s at the point where he automatically receives a bunch of national accolades — that type of establishment won’t go away. Near the trade deadline of certain years, I would see fans on other message boards often mention Thomas and whether they could acquire him in a trade. He’s also expanded his reach a little with his social media shenanigans.
With all of that said, no one else on the Browns really comes in my mind to having that Top 5 star power, as my next five probably would’ve included Miocic, The Miz, J.R. Smith, Tristan Thompson, and Andrew Miller, in no particular order. With the re-building efforts on the Browns possibly ready to bear rewards, here are 5 members of the Browns who I think have the best marketability for current or future star power, to the point where they could possibly crack the list one day:
- Joe Thomas
- Myles Garrett
- Joe Haden
- David Njoku
- Sashi Brown
I’ve already discussed Thomas, but next up is Garrett. I could even see why some might list Garrett in their Top 10 or even Top 5 of all Cleveland sports figures. Being the No. 1 pick of a draft in any sport gives you that notoriety. A guy like Jadeveon Clowney may not have lived up to all of his hype just yet, but I don’t forget about him because he’s a former No. 1 overall pick. But to really carry that star power, you either need to prove you’re the best (J.J. Watt), or just have a TMZ-lifestyle (Johnny Manziel). Garrett doesn’t fall into that latter category.
Haden is a guy who once would’ve been in a Top 5 list, but after several years of obscurity, I wouldn’t be surprised if people forgot he was even still in the NFL. One good season could put him back in the limelight again, but I don’t know if he can ever do anything to climb back up to that overall Top 5.
Njoku makes the list because in the NFL, the players who throw or catch touchdowns have the best shot at getting national recognition in my opinion. Cleveland is still in quarterback purgatory, but Njoku appears to have the potential to be the team’s top receiver.
And lastly, I threw in one executive (Sashi Brown). The Browns have been so bad for so long that I feel like if they turn things around, he will get a lot of national recognition for being the face of the analytical movement — although a sleeper pick might be Paul DePodesta, considering he has cross-sport experience.
Who would your Top 5 Browns for potential marketability (say the next year or two) look like? Remember not to pick any legends like Jim Brown or Bernie Kosar.