I was listening to a sports radio show last week, I believe Mike and Mike, and they mentioned something about the most popular sports figure in a certain city. It got me thinking… Who is the most popular athlete in Cincinnati? And then the other cities with sports teams in baseball, basketball and football (I don’t know enough about the NHL). Today, I tackle the Great Lakes Region (Ohio, Kentucky, Michigan, Illinois, Indiana, and Wisconsin).
Cincinnati – A.J. Green, Cincinnati Bengals
Five years ago, I would have said Joey Votto, or even Brandon Phillips, as the Reds were at the peak of the success. However, with the Reds in the rebuild, A.J. Green takes the title. He has had as good of a start to a career at WR as almost anyone in NFL history. He surpassed 1,000 yards in each of his first 5 years and was 36 yards short last year after an injury cut his season short.
Cleveland – LeBron James, Cleveland Cavaliers
No one even comes close. He’s the King. He is the kid from Akron. Not only is he the most popular athlete in Cleveland, he may be the most popular athlete in the World. The Cavs are the defending world champs and LeBron is the best basketball player in the world.
Detroit – Matthew Stafford, Detroit Lions
I struggled with Detroit. Calvin Johnson has retired and Miguel Cabrera and Justin Verlander are still great players, but nowhere near what they once were. The Lions have won 19 games the last two seasons and Stafford is the biggest reason why. Quarterbacks are going to lead this list, as they as often the face of the franchise.
Chicago – Kris Bryant, Chicago Cubs
As the defending champ and winners of their first title in 100+ years, the most popular athlete in Chicago has to come from the Cubs. Their best player, and the reigning MVP of the National League is Kris Bryant. The budding young superstar is the complete package of a transcendent star.
Indianapolis – Andrew Luck, Indianapolis Colts
Andrew Luck is a former #1 pick, and has taken the Colts to an AFC title game. There isn’t a job in sports much harder than to follow a hall of famer. This is what Luck had to do as he took over for Peyton Manning. He is intelligent, hard-working, and likable. The only other viable candidate is Paul George, and he talks like he can’t wait to get out of Indy.
Green Bay/Milwaukee – Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay Packers
Giannis Antetokoumpo is a rising star and may be a future MVP of the NBA. However, A-Rod still runs this state. The Bucks don’t have the popularity that the Packers have and Rodgers has brought the town a title. He is another QB that has had to take over for a future hall of famer and he has done so with great success.
Kentucky has no pro sports franchises.