Johnny Manziel's fall from football supremacy wasn't because of a lack of support.
The former NFL quarterback recently opened up about his relationship with another Cleveland sports star - LeBron James - and how it helped him deal with the pressure of transitioning from a college football star to the NFL with the Browns.
Manziel talked in depth about his relationship with the Cleveland Cavaliers icon during an interview with Barstool Sports' "Pardon My Take" podcast, acknowledging the two haven't spoken since he was released by the Browns in 2016, but revealed James played an integral role in his early development.
"The guy couldn't have tried anymore," Manziel said. "I remember whenever I was going through my NCAA scandal if you want to call it at [Texas] A&M. Every day, I would get up and go to training camp and 'Bron would text me like every day. 'Just keep your head up, don't worry about anything all the outside noise.'
"At this point in time, I was just 20 years old, I didn't know how to handle the national media pressure and spotlight without checking Twitter and letting it get in my head or seeing it on a website. He tried super hard to just keep me grounded and keep me focused on that. I think that was really the start of our relationship."
Manziel, who is attempting a comeback in 2018 after signing with the Spring League, admitted a lot of his bitterness stemmed from being drafted lower than he expected (No. 22 overall in 2014) and he feels like he "never really gave Cleveland a chance" because of the snub.
"When I got to Cleveland, LeBron tried his best. Him and the guys used to invite me over to his house and want to play cards or just watch a game," Manziel said. "My first six, seven months in Cleveland, I went to practice, I would go out some nights and I would go home. I hardly did anything. I hardly went to any Cavs games. I was just in a funk that I couldn't really get out of and didn't give it much of a chance."
James can certainly identify with the immense amount of pressure Manziel faced early in his career. LeBron, a standout high school basketball player in Akron, Ohio, made the tough decision to skip college and make the jump directly to the NBA as a teenager. He was selected first overall by Cleveland in the 2003 draft, and was the subject of a media frenzy during the early days of his blossoming basketball career. James, though, maintains a squeaky-clean image away from the court despite his high profile in the public eye.
After winning the starting quarterback job during the 2015 season, Manziel sabotaged himself by prioritizing partying over football. He also dealt with a concussion and an elbow injury during that season, ultimately resulting in his release in March 2016. The 25-year-old also recently revealed he's been diagnosed with bipolar disorder, and has quit drinking alcohol while he attempts to rekindle his football career.
Manziel is hoping to impress NFL scouts with his play in the Spring League, but also has the option to sign with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats, who play in the Canadian Football League this season. Should he fail to catch on with a NFL team, playing in Canada may be his only option.