Can LeBron bring normalcy to Manziel?

July, 15, 2014
Jul 15
11:00
AM ET
Johnny Manziel, LeBron JamesGetty ImagesLeBron James has never been part of the cellphone-photo circuit Johnny Manziel finds himself in.
LeBron James accomplished one thing last weekend for Johnny Manziel.

He drove Manziel off the World Wide Web.

For the first weekend since he was drafted, photos of Manziel doing something in some town far away did not appear. Even the many snarky websites that have made their living off Manziel photos were dark for one Monday.

What is the world coming to? James is back in Cleveland, and Manziel backs out of the limelight.

It might seem that James and Manziel would not affect each other. Different sports, different games, different ages, different friends.

Except that Manziel is represented for his marketing purposes by LRMR, the marketing agency founded and run by James and his friends.

Longtime James friend Maverick Carter does Manziel’s marketing. James is beyond loyal to his crew, and Manziel is a small part of the family, which puts him under James’ wing. It’s odd to think that James, a guy who four years ago was reviled in Cleveland, can now be looked at as someone who could help the Browns' young quarterback grow up.

James called himself an “old head” in his letter about coming home, and when an athlete reaches 30, he does achieve a sort of ceremonial position. He's no longer young, so he must be more careful and must take care of himself.

Age catches everyone, and while Manziel can talk about how guys such as Tom Brady and the Mannings are at different points in their lives than he is, Manziel will get there eventually. James is at a different point than Manziel, with two children and another on the way, but James has had plenty of fun in his life.

He never, though, was part of the cellphone-photo circuit the way Manziel is. Manziel certainly is entitled to enjoy his life, but when he complains about photos and then poses for them, it’s just a bit of a juxtaposition.

The one unshakable reality in Cleveland is that no matter what James does or where he does it, Manziel will always be a story as long as he’s a Brown. The Browns simply have that kind of pull in this city.

One of the most amazing things about this NFL team is that the fan loyalty and interest are more unshakable than Molly Brown was unsinkable.

In 2013, the Browns suffered double-digit losses for the sixth consecutive season yet averaged 71,242 tickets sold per game, 97 percent of capacity. In those six seasons, the Browns never dipped below 90 percent capacity, and in three seasons they were at 97, 94 and 99 percent.

Not even James’ wide reach can eclipse that reach. But James could dispense some fatherly advice to Manziel about how best to take care of himself and how best to enjoy himself without becoming a story.

Pat McManamon

ESPN Cleveland Browns reporter

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