CINCINNATI, OH - NOVEMBER 27: A.J. Green #18 of the Cincinnati Bengals hauls in a catch for the first down at Paul Brown Stadium on November 27, 2011 in Cincinnati, Ohio. The Bengals defeated the Browns 23-20. (Photo by John Grieshop/Getty Images)
Training camp goose bumps the skin, seemingly followed by David Caruso moments breathing "Yea" through Cincinnati. And while the Cincinnati Bengals are conducting the earliest stages of training camp, getting their legs underneath them, other teams within the AFC North are doing the same thing.
+ THE CLEVELAND BROWNS COULD BE CHANGING OWNERSHIP. There have been sporadic reports leading up to the weekend that the Cleveland Browns, the other Ohio team up north, could be changing owners sooner rather than later. Owner Randy Lerner confirmed on Friday that he's close to a deal with Tennessee businessman Jimmy Haslam, also a minority owner with the Pittsburgh Steelers, who is seeking full ownership of the team, according to Mary Kay Cabot with the Cleveland Plain Dealer.
In a press conference in Berea on Friday before the full squad took the field for the first time this preseason, Browns President Mike Holmgren confirmed that Lerner "will give up controlling interest in the team." He said he didn't know if Lerner would retain a stake in the franchise, which is worth $977 million, according to Forbes.
One of the conditions of the sale is that the team won't be moved, generating such a sigh of relief in Cleveland that it redirected sweeping thunderstorms targeting northern Cincinnati into northern Kentucky. And of course Behind the Steel Curtain jumps on the opportunity to kick the Browns organization around during so much uncertainty with Browns fans. That's not very sensitive, Neal. How dare you? Though the discussions are fun to watch.
As for the sale. Look. We're as anti-Brown as anyone. Hell. Cincinnati's owner has Brown for a last name and you know how much Bengals fans appreciate him. And while we've never been faced with a scenario of fluctuating ownership, though the threat of the team moving was very real in the mid-90s (read previous sentence), there's a certain empathy for a team that's faced so much adversity (on the field) as the Browns have recently.
Just remember, before Marvin Lewis, the Bengals were routinely the worst team in the division for a long time. Only recently has the team joined postseason ranks, mentioned as one of the teams that people should keep an eye on (for the good reasons). So setting aside the natural geographical rivalry between Cincinnati and Cleveland, we hope things work out for Browns fans (but hope they still suck against the Bengals).