NEW YORK -- LeBron James began offering guidance to Texas A&M football star Johnny Manziel last summer, and now that relationship has turned into a business opportunity.
Manziel, who recently declared for the NFL Draft, will be represented by James’ marketing firm, LRMR. Manziel is the 2012 Heisman Trophy winner who guided Texas A&M to instant success in the Southeastern Conference, but who also was the subject of off-the-field controversies. One of those controversies, signing memorabilia for autograph dealers, put Manziel’s amateur status with the NCAA in question.
James said before the Heat’s game against the Knicks on Thursday that Manziel’s associates reached out to James during Manziel’s turbulent summer. James, of course, went through ordeals similar to Manziel at a young age involving gifts.
“They reached out to me when he was going through a lot of off-the-field things that I thought was just overblown,” James said. “He’s not the only college kid who ever went to a frat party, or ever had fun. But obviously he’s Johnny Manziel, so it was blown out of proportion.
“When the opportunity was brought to me, I basically just told him, if he’s willing to listen, if he’s willing to take my advice, then I’m willing to give it, and throughout this whole season I would text him weekly before the games and after the games.
James said his intention wasn’t to land Manziel as a marketing client. Manziel was arguably the biggest name in college football this season and his nickname, Johnny Football, could have proud marketing appeal.
“At the end of the day, I think he’s an unbelievable competitor, and we love what he brings to the table as far as being a football player and a young man who’s trying to strive for greatness,” James said. “So we’re just happy we’re able to be a friend of his and be able to help him.”