On the Contrary: The battle for Ohio


The Battle for Ohio is an NFL rivalry between two in-state teams: the Cleveland Browns and the Cincinnati Bengals. These two teams have one of the most heated rivalries in the NFL, and both have fan bases that will always be ready to defend their teams no matter what situation they happen to be in. So, which team has the edge?

1. Which team has the better mascot?

Caleb Weiss: The Cincinnati Bengals organization only has one mascot; it is an anthropomorphic Bengal tiger named “Who Dey.” Despite the tiger being a very popular choice for a sports mascot, there was not actually a tiger mascot for the Bengals until 1972, and it was not in its current form until 1976. It has since become one of the most popular mascots in the entire league, with Sports Illustrated ranking it #9 on its list of best NFL mascots. The name “Who Dey” comes from a popular phrase constantly shouted by Bengals fans during games, and it has since become basically a war cry for Bengals fans everywhere. The phrase itself supposedly originated from a Cincinnati brewing company known as “Hudepohl Brewing Company.” It sold drinks at the original Riverfront Stadium, where the Bengals used to play, and the vendors shouted “Hudy!” when they were selling. That of course changed into “Who Dey?” which has since become synonymous with the Bengals franchise. The mascot is one of the coolest in the league, and will always get the crowd hyped, will be fun for the children, and will represent the team with pride.

Mazie Carpentier: The Browns have three very important mascots, Brownie the Elf, Chomps the Labrador, and SJ.  In 1929, the Atlas Beverage Company in Detroit began producing a brownie caramel cream root beer, whose bottles were adorned with an elf. The company soon put a sign advertising the soda on the side of a building in downtown Massillon, Ohio. After that, Brownie the Elf was born. Although he did go away for a while, the public voted that it wanted him back, and he returned as the team’s mid-field logo. Brownie was the team’s official training camp logo in 2006, and the Brownie sideline mascot made his debut in 2015. Head coach Kevin Stefanski has worn a Brownie the Elf cap almost every day since 2020, when he became coach. This year, Brownie is on the sleeve of the team’s walkthrough jerseys and is the face of the field. Though Brownie has much more history, Chomps still makes his appearance in the stadium. The name “Chomps” comes from the fans calling themselves the “Dawg Pound” because of the bleacher section at FirstEnergy Stadium. Chomps, sporting #00 and a toothy grin, really shines with younger Browns fans looking for hugs and high-fives; this no surprise, considering his cute, cartoonish appearance and cheerful expression. Last but not least, the team’s real-life mascot, SJ the bullmastiff, took the place of his father, Swagger, who sadly passed away in 2019. SJ is a wonderful mascot because of the energy he creates throughout the stadium. Who doesn’t love a good puppy? It is very important to take into consideration how the mascots interact with the fans and how they represent themselves, and all three of these do it extremely well.

2. Which team has had better success historically?

Caleb Weiss: The Cincinnati Bengals were founded on May 23rd, 1967 as a member of the American Football League, which was a rival league to the NFL. The team was sold to former Browns coach, Paul Brown, who was also the Bengals first coach. The Bengals initially struggled in the early seasons, going three and eleven in the inaugural season, and only went to the playoffs three times in the first twelve seasons, never once winning a playoff game. But in 1981, after going twelve and four and clinching the first seed in the AFC, the Bengals finally won a playoff game, led by longtime quarterback, Ken Anderson. The Bengals eventually made it to the Super Bowl that same season before ultimately falling short to the Joe Montana-led San Francisco 49ers. They would not return to the big dance again until 1988 when they once again lost to the 49ers. After winning one playoff game in 1991, the Bengals entered a decade of despair, going 49-108; during that stretch, they never once had a season where they had double digit wins, and except the one season where they won a playoff game, they never made the playoffs. After a few more years of mediocrity, they hired Marvin Lewis in 2003. After going eight and eight in back-to-back years, the Bengals finally returned to the playoffs in 2005, losing to the Steelers. Between 2009 and 2015, the Bengals would make the playoffs in five of six seasons. But despite that, they did not win a single playoff game, establishing their reputation as being consistently awful in the playoffs. After returning to mediocrity in 2016, Lewis officially left the team in 2018. A year later, they finished two and fourteen, earning them the 1st overall pick in that year’s draft. They took Heisman Trophy winner out of LSU, Joe Burrow. After an injury-plagued season a year later, Burrow and the Bengals returned to the playoffs with a ten and seven record, and in the playoffs, they finally broke their losing streak, beating the Las Vegas Raiders. After going on what most believed to be a Cinderella run, beating the #1-seeded Titans and the Patrick Mahomes-led Chiefs, the Bengals returned to the Super Bowl, but they lost again, this time to the Los Angeles Rams. They made it back to the playoffs again the next year, but this time they were beaten by the Chiefs, who would go on to win it all, and here we are today.

Mazie Carpentier: The Cleveland Browns were founded in 1944 by businessman Arthur B. McBride when he acquired a franchise in the new All-American Football Conference. After creating the team, his first goal was to hire Paul Brown, who had been successful in high school, college, and other levels of coaching in his past. The teams of the AAFC were comparable to those of the NFL, but in the first ten years of post-World War II pro football, the Cleveland Browns proved to be the best in the leagues combined. With athletes such as Otto Graham, Marion Motley, and Lou Groza creating the path, Cleveland won all four AAFC championships and amassed a 52-4-3 winning record. After the Browns dominated the AAFC, the league got absorbed by the NFL, and many believe it was due to the Browns eliminating any viable competition. After switching leagues, the Browns proved their dominance was legit and were able to open the 1950 season with a beautiful 35-10 victory over the Philadelphia Eagles. Cleveland then won the NFL Eastern Conference Championship for six straight years from 1950 to 1955 and NFL titles in 1950, 1954 and 1955. In 1957, the Browns gained a great player from Syracuse, Jim Brown. Brown is known as one of the greatest running backs of all-time because of his 12,312 rushing yards in nine years.  The Browns reached the postseason playoffs twenty-two times in their first forty years in the NFL. In addition to their four NFL championships between 1950 and 1964, they won eleven NFL American/Eastern Conference Championships, three NFL Century Division titles and AFC Central Division championships in 1971, 1980, 1985, 1986, 1987 and 1989. 

3. Which team has a better chance for future success?

Caleb Weiss: The Bengals are set for a very long time with the current roster. With players such as Joe Burrow, Ja’Marr Chase, Tee Higgins, and Joe Mixon, all of which are very young and still have their best years ahead of them, I do not see the Bengals’ success ending any time soon. Now of course they still have to fend off against division rivals such as the Ravens and the Browns, and even outside of the division with teams such as the Chiefs and the Bills; the Bengals will need to be able to beat those teams if they ever want to win their first Super Bowl. But with all of the talent that is bursting out of the roster, it is a very real possibility that the Bengals will receive their first Lombardi Trophy in franchise history.

Mazie Carpentier: Though the Browns have been through many rough times in the past couple of years, many believe there is a possible breakthrough very soon. Currently, they have running back Nick Chubb. Chubb is definitely going to bring the team to success. He was drafted in 2018 and currently has a total of 6,341 career yards. Many people believe that he is the best running back that was seen this past season. They also acquired Myles “Flash” Garrett in 2017 during the NFL Draft. Garrett has the most sacks in Browns history with a whopping 74.5. He was also named a five-star recruit by Rivals.com and was ranked as the second best player in his class and ranked number eleven out of one-hundred in the 2022 season. Though the topic may bring a lot of controversy , their pickup of quarterback Deshaun Watson was a great pick on their ends. He is for sure a top-five QB and will bring a lot to the table when he is able to play. Yes, he has made many mistakes and it is a tough spot for the Browns to be in, but in many people’s eyes, it is all about picking up the win. The best thing for Browns teams is to be optimistic about everything in the upcoming seasons and to hope we get another player like Jim Brown in the near future. “Here We Go Brownies Here We Go! – Woof! Woof!”

4. So, what is the final verdict?

To wrap it all up, these are both great teams, and it is up to the fans to decide which is the king of Ohio. One peaked in the nineteen-hundreds, and the other one is peaking as we speak. There are many opinions that surround the battle for Ohio and which team should be on top. Both of the teams deserve the respect they have earned, and the fans of both deserve a beautiful Super Bowl win sometime soon.