In case you’re curious — and chances are you probably aren’t — the 2014 version of the Cleveland Browns open their four-game preseason schedule Saturday night in Detroit.
The circus is in town. Watch where you step.
Every camera inside Ford Field will be focused on Johnny Manziel, whether he’s scrambling to evade Lions linemen, holding a clipboard while coolly (he thinks) wearing his hat backward, scribbling postgame autographs or just plain looking bored and wishing he was still BMOC in College Station, Texas.
The network televising the game will promote it days before kickoff like it’s the third Super Bowl being played on Michigan soil: “Watch Johnny Manziel and the Browns battle Megatron and the Lions.”
Of course, if striving for accuracy, it might want to instead show film clips of Brian Hoyer in one of the three games (Vikings, Bengals, Bills) he played in 2013 before suffering a season-ending ACL tear: “Journeyman, hard-luck quarterback Brian Hoyer leads his home-state Cleveland Browns against Megatron and the Lions.”
So it lacks pizzazz. And, frankly, it is kind of depressing.
Doesn’t matter. If Manziel is in uniform and somewhere in the area code of an NFL game being played, people will be watching. Put another way, the kid is absolute toast if he’s a habitual nose- or wedgie-picker.
Whether you like Manziel, loathe him or can’t distinguish Johnny Football from Johnny Appleseed, that’s some intense pressure bearing down on the shoulder pads of someone so young.
Worse, he’s about to get a 20-week dose when you add Browns exhibition games to the mix.
That’s the world we now live in.
I’ve heard Manziel ripped in recent weeks for his frequent-flier-worthy partying, throwing mechanics and supposed lack of dedication. One radio show I happened to tune in to actually had the temerity to bring up his acne (great, if it scores Manziel a six-figure deal with Clearasil).
Close your eyes for a moment and imagine current cellphone technology existing when these athletes were in their prime: Joe Namath, Paul Hornung, John Daly, Dennis Rodman, Mike Tyson, Wade Boggs, Darryl Strawberry, Lawrence Taylor, Mickey Mantle.
Not pretty is it?
And from what I’ve read about the iconic Babe Ruth, it’s amazing that man even made it to 30 — he was 53 when he succumbed to cancer in 1948 — given his triple-threat combination of fattening foods, hard liquor and not nearly enough sleep.
If legend isn’t lying, The Bambino makes Manziel look like A.C. Green.
Manziel is a young man with the world at his feet and a lens trailing his every move. He and New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski, in particular, have it as bad as they do good with whatever off-the-field displays of enjoying life they can come up with.
In case you’re wondering, the Browns don’t play the Pats this season. In the grand scheme of things we’re probably better for it.
Mike Beas is a sports writer for the Daily Journal. Send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.