Evin Demirel: Can Dowell Loggains ‘Wreck this League’ with Manziel?


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It’s a word that in more than a few ways defines Jim Brown and Johnny Manziel – two of the most high profile players in Cleveland Brown history. And it’s an attitude Cleveland Brown Arkansans have come to firsthand experience.

Let’s start with Dowell Loggains, the former Razorback special teams assistant/signal-sender/everything-and-anything man who no doubt has seen footage of Manziel carving up his alma mater for an SEC-record 557 yards in the fall of 2012. As Cleveland’s quarterbacks coach, Loggains also no doubt is familiar with Manziel’s much-Twitterized fondness for hot NBA courtside tickets and hotter, armside co-eds.

But he might not have felt the full fire of Johnny Football’s swagger until last week during the first round of the 2014 NFL Draft. Despite his 5-11 stature, Manziel was seen a potential Top 20 pick. One after another, though, franchises passed over the 2012 Heisman Trophy winner, going for prototype big bodies with conventional skill sets over a big heart with once-in-a-generation ability. The Browns chose a cornerback, Justin Gilbert, at No. 8 but weren’t going to pass on Manziel again. Loggains had thoroughly scouted about 14 college quarterbacks and Manziel kept coming out on top of his charts. “We were very high on Johnny,” he said, according to the Cleveland Plain Dealer.

Manziel, it turns out, was pretty high on Cleveland too. Although he hadn’t gone in the top half of the first round, it was unlikely Manziel would last until the Browns’ pick at No. 26. The Chiefs, for one, would have snagged him at No. 23, Loggains said. “We’re sitting there and they keep showing Johnny on T.V. and Johnny and I are texting,” Dowell Loggains told “Sports Talk with Bo Mattingly.” “He shoots me a text and he says, ‘I wish you guys would come get me. Hurry up and draft me because I want to be there.”

“I want to wreck this league together.”

* * *

Fifty-seven years ago, the Browns drafted another dynamo in the first round of the NFL Draft. Certifiable league-wide wreckage followed.

Running back Jim Brown might not have been as flashy as Manziel, but whatever the Syracuse superstar lacked in sheer improvisational brilliance he more than made up for in mind-boggling athletic versatility. As a collegian, Brown was All-American in football and lacrosse, while starting for the Orangemen basketball team and running track. No matter the sport, the 6’2”, 220-pound specimen stood out. “For mercurial speed, airy nimbleness, and explosive violence in one package of undistilled evil, there is no other like Mr. Brown,” legendary sportswriter Red Smith wrote.

Cleveland took Brown with the sixth pick of the 1957 draft, and with the help of two former Razorbacks he didn’t waste time establishing himself as the greatest pro running back the nation had ever seen.

It was Brown’s team from the get go. Unlike with Manziel, there was no question of whether he would start. It didn’t matter that former Razorback Preston Carpenter had led the team in rushing in 1956 or had been named to the UPI’s All-Pro second team. Carpenter would be moved to tight end, where he later developed into an All-Pro with Pittsburgh.

It certainly didn’t matter Preston’s brother Lew Carpenter was joining the team after three seasons with the Detroit Lions, or that he too had led his team in

jim brown with lew carpenter

Jim Brown with Lew Carpenter

rushing, as well as helping Detroit win a championship. The Carpenter brothers, who hailed from West Memphis, spent the 1957 and 1958 seasons with Brown in Cleveland. They knew exactly what to do during that stretch, according a story relayed an Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame historian who knew Carpenter brothers before their deaths in recent years.

The historian, Jim Rasco, recalled a story Lew Carpenter told him about five years ago. Carpenter and Jim Brown were in the Browns’ locker room, the players were discussing their roles and at one point Brown said something along the lines of: “I could block, but I’m not gonna block for you. I’m not paid to block.” Brown expected them to do the blocking for him. Rasco added, “He didn’t say it in a way that Lewis took any offense … In no way did I think it had anything to do with race – black, white – anything like that.”

“He was just telling him like it was – that he wasn’t gonna block,” Rasco recalled of that late night conversation in a Springdale hotel lobby at a Razorback commemorative event. “Preston was nothing but complimentary about what a good football player [Brown] was. They had no problems with him whatsoever.”

Still, it doesn’t matter how diplomatic you are, nor how slow-footed the lineman in front of you, there’s no getting around this fact: Jim Brown was a bad, bad man. By all accounts, he still is. Who else retires as the NFL’s all-time leading rusher and four-time MVP at the age of 30, not because of injury, but simply because he’s too busy filming a World War II blockbuster in which he plays a soldier convicted of killing a man in a racial brawl?  Then, in the coming decades, also appears in “Knight Rider,” “He Got Game,” and something called “Ice Station Zebra”? In case you’re wondering, nobody else does this.

Clevleand fans of course want to see Manziel turn into the same kind of offensive steamroller Brown was in his playing days. But they would gladly take a one-dimensional, boring, ball custodian Johnny, too, if he delivered the city’s first major pro sports title since Brown led Cleveland to the 1964 championship.

Brown laid the foundation to that, in part, by essentially telling an Arkansan what to do. It is yet to be seen if history started to repeat itself when Manziel told Loggains to draft him. Which, of course, Cleveland did after trading up to take him with the No. 22 pick.

That part’s easy. For those who aren’t Jim Brown, though, league wrecking typically takes longer.

* * *

Demirel is known to have wrecked an eye or two with his sports-centric Twitter feed and blog. Rest assured: readers are always fully reimbursed. 

Under the guidance of former Razorback Dowell Loggains, what will Johnny Manziel be three years from now?

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Can Dowell Loggains wreck the NFL with Manziel

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