If we’ve learned anything in the days since LeBron James announced that he’ll return to his native Northeast Ohio to play again for the Cleveland Cavaliers, it’s that the reports of locals burning his jersey had been greatly exaggerated.

Not only did the majority of Cavs fans never burn their gear, they didn’t throw it out or hand it off to Goodwill, either. Hell, even Dan Gilbert and his family hung on to their LeBron gear, per the Cavs’ owner’s (possibly apocryphal) tweet: “My 8-year-old: ‘Daddy, does this mean I can finally wear my Lebron jersey, again?’…Yes it does, son. Yes it does!”

LBJ

No, those jerseys at Gilbert’s house and others were tucked safely in closets and basements, tacit reminders of the hope Northeast Ohioans held that LeBron might one day come home and they’d wear them again.

Last Friday night, they did.

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The talents are coming home

by Cleveland Frowns on July 11, 2014

LeBron

More here shortly on “a relationship with Northeast Ohio that’s bigger than basketball.” For now though even LeBron would have to excuse a few days, or a few months, or whatever the case may be before getting back to the real world, so to speak, and anyone would have to agree that things are looking at least a little bit up in Cleveland.

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At some level it’s of course good news that a government office with jurisdiction over the issue took an official step in recognition of the Washington Redskins name for what it is: A racist slur adopted by a racist in celebration and furtherance of white supremacy. Yet despite all the excitement about bootleg Redskins merchandise and $9 billion dollar lawsuits, the US Patent and Trademark Office’s decision to cancel the registration of six Redskins marks represents a small measure, probably unconstitutional, that even if upheld on appeal would hardly cause the NFL franchise to lose any trademark protection at all. In the end, it’s little more than a reminder that we live in a world where it has to be so hard to take such a small and obvious step in the first place.

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Which isn’t to say that the reminder is unhelpful. [click to continue…]

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LeBron’s Next Move

by Cleveland Frowns on June 24, 2014

LeBron James just notified the Miami Heat that he’ll exercise an early-termination option in his contract that will allow him to become a free agent this summer. This doesn’t necessarily mean that he’ll leave Miami, and theoretically it improves the Heat’s ability to re-add LeBron to a retooled roster. At this point no one knows what LeBron will do next. What he should do, however, is obvious.

If LeBron is really interested in making the most of his enormous talent and becoming a global icon, a hero, and a truly great man instead of just a great basketball player, what he should do is [click to continue…]

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It’s no secret that NFL football works a lot differently in Pittsburgh than it does in Cleveland. But as hard as it might have been to think that the contrast between the two cities could be any more stark on this front, here’s a story from last week’s Tribune-Review about how Pittsburgh city leaders have come to an agreement with the owners of the Steelers “that will allow the [franchise] to pack more fans into Heinz Field without sacking taxpayers.”

“The deal would end more than a year of legal wrangling over who would pay for an estimated $40 million in improvements to the 13-year-old stadium,” Tom Fontaine reports. “The Steelers sued [the city and Allegheny County] in late 2012 when a deal to finance the stadium improvements fell apart.” The NFL franchise claimed that it was owed public money for the stadium improvements pursuant to contracts with the city and county. But the parties eventually figured out a way pay for the improvements without any public funds, including by allowing the Steelers to sell personal seat licenses to the fans who use the facility, as well as by adding “a $1 ticket surcharge to tickets for Steelers and Pitt Panthers football games, along with stadium events such as concerts.”

“I am pleased that this project at Heinz Field is being completed without any public dollars, which are increasingly scarce,” said Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto.

So if you’re keeping score you’ll note that it’s more than six Super Bowls to none, and it’s more than a legacy of unsurpassed glory versus one of historic ineptitude.

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It’s also that in Pittsburgh, when the NFL team wants to pay for stadium improvements by using taxpayer money that it claims to be owed pursuant to onerous team-friendly contracts that were written decades ago, there are city leaders in Pittsburgh who, in open recognition of the fact that “public dollars are increasingly scarce,” will engage in “legal wrangling” over the claimed obligations until a better deal results that shifts the burden of maintaining the facilities off of the public on to the team owners who derive untold millions of dollars in private profit from them.

Whereas in Cleveland, when the NFL team wants to pay for stadium improvements by using taxpayer money that it claims to be owed pursuant to onerous team-friendly contracts that were written decades ago, every prominent politician in town [click to continue…]

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God Help Johnny Football

by Cleveland Frowns on May 9, 2014

Last night the Cleveland Browns used the 22nd pick in the first round of the 2014 NFL Draft to select quarterback Johnny Manziel, the 2013 Heisman Trophy winner from Texas A&M University who’s famously known as “Johnny Football.”

This morning on ESPN’s SportsCenter a whole lot was said about Cleveland’s new “celebrity quarterback.” Hardly any of it was about actual football.

Impact Player

“I don’t think there’s been a single draft pick in the history of the NFL that has kind of galvanized a city from a financial standpoint as quickly as Johnny has,” said ESPN business reporter, Darren Rovell. “I just spoke to the largest ticket broker in Cleveland, he said this is gonna be a tremendous year for us, he’s already raised ticket prices, they’ve raised ticket prices even on preseason games which he’d typically would just just throw in a drawer. So for one year this is gonna be guaranteed to be great.”

“Browns fans need a new jersey,” Rovell added, referring to Trent Richardson and Tim Couch in expressing his certainty that Manziel’s jersey would be a top-three seller in the NFL this year.

On the same program, Sal Paolantonio discussed his report that the Browns sold 1,200 season tickets last night after their selection of the quarterback was announced. Paolantonio told CBS Cleveland last night that the Browns “needed to reward their fans with the risk of Manziel.”

Because why reward your fans by winning football games when there’s so much risk out there to reward them with instead? Who would have dared to dream that being a Browns fan could have become any more rewarding? Yet here we are, with [click to continue…]

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The 2014 NFL Draft is the most important draft in Cleveland Browns history

May 7, 2014

Matt Borcas is a Mentor native and lifelong Browns fan who writes about football and other things for ESPN’s Grantland. His writing about the NFL has appeared here regularly in the past and here it is again to preview the latest most important draft in Cleveland Browns history. ————— Ray Farmer, like most NFL execs, […]

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44% of Cuyahoga County voters reject sin tax subsidy for Cleveland’s pro sports owners

May 7, 2014

Below is the text of a press release issued by the Coalition Against the Sin Tax (C.A.S.T.) in response to yesterday’s election results, with links added for reference. ————- Yesterday, by a margin of approximately 56 to 44 percent (101,717 votes to 78,741), Cuyahoga County voters approved Issue 7, also known as the Sin Tax […]

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Art Modell Hostage Economics Do Not Keep Cleveland Strong

May 6, 2014

The worst thing about the pro-sin tax (pro-Issue 7) “Keep Cleveland Strong” campaign is that it’s based entirely on a threat that the billionaire owners of the Browns, Cavaliers and Indians would somehow weaken Cleveland if they didn’t receive another $300 million handout to go on top of the $1 billion-plus in public subsidies that […]

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Issue 7 debate on Sound of Ideas: “Here’s one minute of dialogue that encapsulates the real sin tax debate perfectly”

May 1, 2014

Yesterday I appeared on WCPN’s Sound of Ideas for a discussion of the sin tax/Issue 7 with Cleveland City Council President Kevin Kelley and guest phone appearances by Cleveland Journalism Hall of Famer Roldo Bartimole, and Kent Whitley who was nominally representing the NAACP. We covered a lot of ground over the course of what was […]

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