by Will Burge
If you subscribe to the notion that Cleveland remains a blue-collar town enamored with hard work, then you probably think there is no room on the shores of Lake Erie for bravado and showmanship. And you probably think that were the Browns to draft Johnny Manziel, it would go against everything Cleveland stands for.
Recent history bears out some examples. When LeBron was still playing basketball at the Q, people liked to believe he was a hard-working kid from Akron who made it out of the ghetto. Now that he’s in Miami (with a couple of rings), he’s a prissy diva who flops for calls and lies to sustain a carefully perfected image.
Braylon Edwards always saw himself as too big for Cleveland, and fans hated him for that attitude. The city rejoiced when his “New York essence” was escorted out of town. No, we do not like people who dream big, who supplement their talent with flash and pizzazz.
Joe Haden might drive $100,000 cars and dress gaudy, but he also wears Anderson Varejao wigs to Cavs games, so he gets a pass. You better endear yourself to this fan base if you want to be a star outside of the game you play.
A lot of this boils down to an inferiority complex, or at least the perception of one, and perhaps the reason we recoil almost on instinct when our players find fame outside of the stadium.
Why do fans feel like their stars have to be homegrown, lunch-pail type players?
The Browns will not be drafting Manziel with the fourth overall pick according to Jay Glazer of FoxSports.com. Glazer has a damn near perfect track record when it comes to reporting, so consider that to be fact. But he was very careful to only say they will not take him at 4. He never said they wouldn’t take him later in the first round.
There is a slight chance that Manziel makes it to 26. The Browns would not have to wait that long though. They have plenty of ammo to move up from 26 or 35 to snag Johnny Football. A move like that would not be very popular.
Deep down most fans want Brian Hoyer to be the guy who turns the team around. He is Cleveland through and through — that lunch-pail type, an Ignatius guy. Not only is he from here but he is an underdog story. He went undrafted and had to fight for everything he has in the league. He is exactly what we like in this town: a long shot.
The problem is that long shots are long shots for a reason. They do not work out most of the time.
Manzeil is the antithesis of Hoyer. He was born with a silver spoon in his mouth, was the first freshman ever to win the Heisman and makes sure every knew exactly how good he was along the way. He parties in public, dates beautiful women and broadcasts it to the world as it happens.
That is exactly what the Browns need. That is exactly what Cleveland needs.
Maybe I’m just sick of covering a team that bores me to death, but I think it’s time to liven up the orange and brown. They will have new uniforms, a revamped stadium and possibly cheerleaders soon. Why not a new kind of quarterback too?
Is Manziel a lock to be great in the NFL? Of course not. Is he a lock to be must-watch TV every single week though? Hell yes.
The Browns have tried to do it the “Cleveland way” for too long. Why not bring in a guy whose in-your-face style will make people uncomfortable? Why not put a quarterback on the field that improvises, excites and takes chances.
I am not against Hoyer as the quarterback of the Browns. I am just realistic and know that he is probably not the answer. In a city that hates to challenge the norm, Manziel would do just that.
He has a Nike marketing campaign already even though he hasn’t even yet stepped on the field. No matter where he goes, the entire world will be watching. His games will be nationally televised and his highlights or lowlights will be played on Sportscenter every evening.
Why not have him in an orange helmet while his career unfolds in front of the nation?
It’s time the Browns think outside the box and bring in a real needle mover. They need someone who can breathe life back into an irrelevant franchise. They need Johnny Manziel.
What’s the worst-case scenario? He bombs out like the rest of our quarterbacks since 1999? At least he’d make it fun to watch a team suck this much.
But that is not what scares folks about the Browns drafting Manziel. They are scared he won’t fall on his face. They are scared he really will be the guy who changes the franchise forever.
If he elevates the Browns to the next level and becomes the face of Cleveland then fans will have to embrace him. They will have to love the guy who parties a little too much and isn’t afraid to celebrate a touchdown. They will have to root for the bad guy.