Johnny Manziel may be the biggest winner from today’s news and he can now take a deep breath, letting the weight of Cleveland’s sporting hopes slide off of his shoulders now that LeBron James has announced his homecoming decision. James wrote a first person essay and had it published on SportsIllustrated.com today, which was not as dramatic as his decision four years ago, but it has changed the sporting landscape for the city of Cleveland for years to come yet again. A radio host on ESPN Radio has said that James’ essay will go down as the most important piece of writing ever in the history of Cleveland sports.
It has been five decades since the city of Cleveland last won a championship in any major sport. The Browns won an NFL Title in 1964, before the Superbowl was even the deciding game in the professional football league. The Cleveland Indians last won the World Series of Baseball all the way back in 1948. The Cavaliers have never won the NBA Championship, but did get very close in 2007, when LeBron James led Cleveland to a losing effort to the Spurs in the NBA Finals.
Johnny Manziel, after he was drafted as the twenty second pick of 2014 NFL Draft to the Cleveland Browns, was immediately pegged as the man who would lead the city of Cleveland to a title, or at the very least to contest for a title. Manziel is a young man who lives how he wants to live, no questions asked. He will not bend to the wishes of others. He will undoubtedly be a consummate professional athlete on the field for the Browns, but off the field he is still a 21 year old at heart.
Sally Jenkins of the Washington Post wrote an article on July 10 about how Johnny Manziel is trying to play a game with in a game in the NFL. He will work for five days a week and then party for two days, and if it doesn’t affect his game, then it will likely further develop his fame, but if he goes out and looks hungover on Sundays, he will be ridiculed and eventually benched. With today’s signing, the Cleveland media will not be focusing solely on Johnny Football.
LeBron James is back in Cleveland for a second stint and his homecoming will shift media attention and ridicule from Johnny Manziel, who was previously the city’s biggest athlete. James may have already won two NBA Titles with the Miami Heat, but Cleveland is still very hungry for success and the prodigal son will need to perform. The Cavaliers have been very successful, and lucky, in acquiring lottery picks in the NBA Draft, which has produce young players with amazing upside potential. If Cleveland can keep Wiggins and Bennet, then they will have four No. 1 overall picks on the same team, the other two being Irving and James. Cleveland, and larger sporting media as a whole, are now expecting results from the King and his young supporting cast.
This means the pressure is off Manziel, but Johnny Football thrives on pressure. This shifting of media attention could result in an inner drive for success from the young man. This drive could bubble up inside of Manziel, creating a competition for Cleveland’s best athlete that will propel Johnny Football to be the best in the city. Cleveland has had a stellar summer with Manziel and LeBron James coming to the city, but now that LeBron has announced his homecoming, it gives Manziel time to grow without as much pressure, and eventually prove that Johnny Football is a championship winner.
Commentary by B. Taylor Rash