By Dave Bruning
Sports break almost as many hearts as the girl next door. No city has been jilted more than Cleveland, Ohio. The Drive, the Fumble, the Mistake by the Lake, the Decision, Art Modell and LeBron James. That girl next door seems pretty damn nice by comparison. Johnny Manziel, aka Johnny Football, is set to change all that. Johnny Football gives Cleveland some much-needed juice. The city is his for the taking.
Manziel is a lightning rod. He moves the needle and generates opinions with just about everything he does. Rare is the athlete with the skill and moxy to do that. His success as an NFL quarterback has been the hot debate topic from the moment he declared for the draft. I have mixed feelings about that myself.
The city of Cleveland is not the most desirable destination for professional athletes (we are spoiled in the greater Denver vicinity). I think it is the perfect situation for Manziel. The rabid fan base of this city has longed for an athlete they can call their own since James took his talents to South Beach. The reaction to Manziel’s pick has been electric. Fans exploded with joy, season ticket holders opened their wallets and ESPN had their highest ratings for the draft. Johnny Football is a lightning rod and the man moves the needle.
The Cleveland Browns are much closer to playoff football than most people think. A little coaching stability surely wouldn’t hurt for starters. They do, however, have a stout defense and several talented young playmakers on offense in Josh Gordon and Jordan Cameron. Veteran running back Ben Tate beefs up the rushing attack. Journeyman quarterback Bobby Hoyer is respectable. He will not give up the job easily. It is a matter of time before the Browns become Johnny Football’s team.
Manziel is a deft scrambler and is believed to have a strong throwing arm. He is undersized for an NFL quarterback and his durability is a major concern. He borrowed a page from Broadway Joe Namath’s playbook and does not suffer from a lack of confidence.
Johnny Football and Cleveland, Ohio are a perfect match. The perfect legacy for Cleveland and Manziel would be for him to forever be known as Johnny Cleveland. Hell, he might be enough to convince LeBron to return to Cleveland. Making the Cleveland Browns relevant will be his first miracle. One thing is for sure; that pretty girl next door sure finds Johnny Football attractive.