SPORTS DAILY: Manziel story no laughing matter now

His name is being linked to that of Ryan Leaf, who says that looking at Browns quarterback Johnny Manziel is like looking at a mirror.

If that doesn’t inspire Manziel to get help, I’m afraid nothing will.

The No. 2 overall pick by San Diego in the 1998 draft (only Peyton Manning went ahead of him), Leaf failed miserably in all respects after reaching the NFL. The quarterback from Washington State won four games in three years, famously berated a reporter in the locker room, then later got himself busted for drugs and wound up serving time.

Leaf soon became an object of derision, much like Manziel now, and the words “woefully immature” were practically part of his name.

But unless you want to ridicule the Browns for taking a chance on Manziel in the first place — and I do understand that urge — the Manziel matter is no longer funny.

Now that Manziel’s father has come out and said he fears his son might take his own life, it’s bordering on tragic.

It’s come to this. Famous party-boy actor and Dayton native Charlie Sheen is giving Manziel advice.

Another good read on the subject comes from Bud Shaw, the overshadowed, underrated columnist at The (Cleveland) Plain Dealer, who says Manziel needs help, not more excuses.

Without blaming the Browns, it’s easy to wonder what might be different today had their organizational structure been more stable or had there been a true leader in the front office the past two seasons.

Was it the wisest course for new coach Hue Jackson, without even meeting Manziel, to say he basically had no use for the quarterback and would be looking elsewhere?

The organization, which is constantly in transition, then issued a statement strongly implying Manziel will be released at the first possible opportunity.

Was that entirely necessary?

Maybe the rejection pushed Manziel to the brink. No matter what you think of him, let’s hope it didn’t push him over the edge.

Ohio’s Mr. Basketball shows why he’s at Duke

Coach Mike Krzyzewski has criticized Franklin High School graduate Luke Kennard this season for not living up to his scoring potential at Duke as a freshman.

Saturday, the two-time winner of the Ohio Mr. Basketball award answered with 26 points in Duke’s 88-80 win over North Carolina State. Kennard hit six of the Blue Devils’ season-best 14 3-pointers to help them win in Krzyzewski’s return following a one-game, illness-related absence.

“Luke’s the type of guy that can just rattle off four or five 3s in a row like that, he can get real hot and it’s fun to play with someone like that,” Grayson Allen, Kennard’s teammate, told the Associated Press. “Luke was just getting open, knocking them down.”

Kennard is averaging 13 points and 3.6 rebounds in his first exposure to big-time college competition.

Columnist: Reds fans have (1) reason to be excited

Pitchers and catchers report to spring training Feb. 18, and the Cincinnati Reds are mentioned exactly once in a column titled “50 reasons to be excited about baseball season.”

It’s thought that outfielder Billy Hamilton — if he can improve his on-base percentage — might have a chance to become the first player since 1988 (Rickey Henderson 93, Vince Coleman 81) to steal 80 bases.

Looking for other signs of hope? Check out Marc Pendleton’s Q&A with Reds player development director Jeff Graupe. Development guys are paid to be hopeful and excited and — who knows? — maybe there’s good reason considering all the young, cheap talent acquired lately in trades for better, more expensive talent.