This is what an Ohio pro sports renaissance looks like: Joe Burrow carted off the field

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At some point on Thursday, before seeing the news that Joe Burrow was carted off the practice field, I was running over some story ideas in my head as one does in late July when very few sports are in season. The half-baked concept I was playing around with was: Are we in the middle of an Ohio pro sports renaissance? The Cincinnati Reds and Cleveland Guardians are both above .500, the Cleveland Cavaliers were a four-seed in the playoffs, and the Cleveland Browns and Cincinnati Bengals technically both have franchise quarterbacks.

It was obviously meant as a backhanded compliment seeing as the Cavs got dismissed in five games, the baseball teams aren’t shoo-ins for the playoffs, and one of those QBs is Deshaun Watson. There’s certainly an argument to be made for it this century, and a backhanded compliment is still technically a compliment. Then Burrow went down, and the idea became considerably less funny. (It’s still kind of funny though, and I know Ohio has more than a few sports fans who enjoy dark humor.)

The reports are it’s only a calf strain, and a lot was made of the cart and the new compression sleeve Burrow was wearing on the leg he injured. There’s no information regarding a timetable, but the Cincinnati Enquirer did the math on the normal recovery time for calf sprains, and even for a grade two (three to six weeks), there should be enough time for Joey B to get back for the Sept. 10 opener.

It appears the Bengals avoided an all-out catastrophe, and hopefully they have because any fanbase that’s had to put up with owner Mike Brown’s shit deserves more than fleeting happiness. Honestly, I kind of feel that way about most Ohio pro sports fans — outside of Browns supporters who defend Watson.

So with that said, let me finish this renaissance angle.

OoOoO-hio! Hio!

In addition to Burrow and the concept of Watson still being a franchise QB, there’s star power in Ohio. Bengals receiver Ja’Marr Chase and Reds phenom Elly de la Cruz are two of the most electric athletes you’ll see in any sport. Browns running back Nick Chubb rushed for 1,525 yards last year, good for third-best in the NFL in 2022. The Cavs’ duo of Darius Garland and Evan Mobley is one of the most promising in the NBA.

Joey Votto ripped Mike the Mad Dog to his face the other day, and regardless of if he was joking, someone needed to knock Russo down a couple of rungs. Tee Higgins is damn good, too, and the Bengals need to pay him. I haven’t even mentioned Donovan Mitchell yet, and say what you will about the Knicks series, but he’s still a walking highlight package. José Ramírez could have another 30 home run, 100 RBI season, and he wasn’t the Guardians’ only All-Star. (With 28 saves, the Guardians’ other All-Star, closing pitcher Emmanuel Clase, is currently tied for third in all of baseball.)

Yes, the Blue Jackets missed the playoffs the past three seasons, but that’s hockey, and Ohio has a lot of pro sports teams to account for. If we’re just talking MLB, NFL, NBA, and NHL, only five states have more franchises than Ohio’s six, behind California (15), New York (10), Florida (9), Texas (8), and Pennsylvania (7).

Also, when you consider the history of pro sports in Ohio, and the likelihood that the Browns, Bengals, Cavs, Reds, and Guardians will all be at least average at the same time again (the Browns notwithstanding), this might be as close to an Ohio pro sports renaissance as it gets.

Now, whether that’s encouraging, or depressing, I don’t know. That half-full glass is for Ohioans to judge. Hey, at least Joe Burrow… well, let me stop there before I jinx it again.

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