The headlines on the football site at Cleveland.com shared a quote from Cleveland Browns rookie quarterback, Johnny Manziel: “I couldn’t be happier being in a place like Cleveland.” That’s a quote from Dan Labbe’s story, filed Sept. 12, 2014, and the quote came from an interview at last night’s premiere of “Survivor’s Remorse.”
The premiere was to showcase a new television series with a storyline tag, “Pro money, pro problems.” That was a good enough reason for Manziel to step out on the town to see the show produced by Spring Hill Productions, and its two owners, proud Cleveland native LeBron James and his business partner Maverick Carter. Manziel joined LeBron James, Maverick Carter, and Tom Werner last night for a moderated conversation with the audience.
Where there is cause to pause for reflection is in Manziel’s statements to the press. “A place like Cleveland” didn’t seem to quite sit that well, but then again, the boy who was born in Tyler, Texas, played high school ball in Kerrville, Texas, and then played college ball in College Station, Texas has only one state to reference. Fair enough.
However, Manziel was further quoted in Labbe’s story as saying, “Performance is first. This team here in Cleveland. Performance is what will keep your name relevant and keep your name a household name.” What exactly is “a place like Cleveland?” Is it not the dungeon of boredom you expected because it wasn’t Hollywood enough or uptown enough like the Top 10 largest cities in the United States?
Upon reflection it appears that his sound byte is all about—himself,—keeping his name relevant and making sure he’s a household name. Football fans, especially NFL fans, might suggest otherwise. Priorities for any quarterback as essential on-field team leader should be:
Making a contribution to the Cleveland Browns organization;
Setting an example on the practice field and the playing field of practicing so hard that you leave everything out on the field, as athletes are fond of saying;
Appreciating the opportunity to work with some of the best professional football players in the country, learning from more experienced players about the game you love, and trying to find a way to remain team-centric rather than self-focused;
Earning the millions of dollars being contracted for payment based at this point on past performance in college and a nationally relevant trophy;
Becoming a part of the Cleveland community, participating in the NFL community activities and perhaps identifying in what area of Cleveland a player can make the best impact and use his celebrity for the people of Cleveland who have embraced him, particularly in the skyrocketing season ticket sales as well as sales of t-shirts that bear his number for the Cleveland Browns.
No matter how sorrowful or regrettable to Manziel fans it seems that Brian Hoyer’s skill kept him in the game and brought Cleveland back to almost beat Pittsburgh, Hoyer is the starting quarterback, where experience, poise and team play mean everything to the team. It’s not just about tossing a football with supreme accuracy, nor is it a matter of scrambling and gaining a first down occasionally if the opportunity demands it as much as it is creating a seamless sense of team play and team spirit. That’s very much like the role LeBron James sees himself in for the world of professional basketball
It’s not about keeping your name a household name. Bright lights and big media coverage have an expiration date. Once you stop producing, no one cares any more. And when you’ve exhausted every chance at hoopla the fans stop caring, or worse yet, they start to turn on you. When Manziel posted the program’s poster (seen here) two days ago on his Instagram account, the comments were very mixed, very pointed, and not very embracing of the rookie NFL quarterback’s actions so far. The jury is still out on how football fans feel about young Manziel.
He’s either going to learn from this and grow or he’s going to wind up with a heaping helping of regrets. The days of college heroes are long gone in the rearview mirror and the fans now ask, “What have you done for me lately?” That’s how it goes in the big leagues. This is the NFL, not a celebrity reality show.
LeBron James is the perfect young man who did brilliant work very young but who has grown up wisely, and been smart enough to get his resources to multiply. He remains committed to Cleveland and came home for that reason. Cleveland is in his heart forever. Johnny Football jumped the gun by trademarking “Johnny Cleveland” but if he’ll spend some time getting to know the good people, he’ll fall in love with the city.
The Texas Aggies are still in Manziel’s corner, rooting for him to come back from the bench, from the penalty fine for flipping off the Washington Redskins and from an attitude that has long passed celebrity status and is now more of an Internet presence than gridiron substance, for now. Time to grow up, work hard, and focus on and talk about (in interviews) the team you work for and the people you work with. Remember, there is no ‘I’ in “team,” lest there be “Survivor’s Remorse.”
And just for the record, Cleveland is “all that,” and it’s a happening hub of activity, whether airline travel, business deals and one of the most appreciated groups of college football fans as well as rabid professional football fans that you could ever hope for. That’s what “a place like Cleveland” is: sense of family, civic pride, and hard-won battles and accomplishments that don’t need a publicist to build up because one visit to the town sells itself. And if that is not enough, LeBron James is back home where he belongs, so all is well tonight in Cleveland. Want to know more about Cleveland? Ask Drew Carey and he’ll tell you loud and proud, “Cleveland rocks.”