There's some symbolism in the way Browns coach Mike Pettine structured the locker-room setting.
Not that he had symbolic thoughts in mind when he placed Brian Hoyer's locker near the front of the room, directly opposite Johnny Manziel's locker at the far end.
The first stop to the right of Manziel's locker is the equipment room, where clean uniforms hang neatly and workers screw facemasks to helmets. It's not exactly a prime spot for a player who grew accustomed to the spotlight of social media and national television cameras as he morphed into "Johnny Football" at Texas A&M.
It's known that Hoyer and Manziel aren't exactly bosom buddies. Hoyer joked after an offseason workout that the two probably won't exchange Christmas cards, which is more a reflection of their opposite lifestyles than any friction that may have developed between the two.
One can surmise that logic was included in Pettine's choice of lockers. It's no secret that Manziel's Heisman Trophy presence will be lurking over Hoyer's every move on game days. Hoyer doesn't need the rookie sitting next to his locker before and after every practice.
It would be like the little brother hanging on to the shirt of the older brother, constantly saying, "I can do better than you."
Then again, maybe Pettine made his selections randomly. Other than allowing veterans like Joe Thomas and Joe Haden to keep their previous spots at the comfortable end of rows, Pettine could have picked names from a hat and stuck them on lockers as he walked by them.
The reality of the situation is that Manziel's shadow would cast its presence on Hoyer even if his locker was in the parking lot. Hoyer will literally feel it every time he hears boos after an incomplete pass or an interception.
It isn't fair, but no one said it ever is in the NFL. Hoyer broke free of Tom Brady's large shadow in New England last year, only to be stuck in the middle of Manziel mania in Cleveland this year.
True Browns' fans should want the best for Hoyer if for no reason other than their sanity. Hoyer's play in two-plus games after replacing Brandon Weeden last season should give the fan base some hope that more of the same is in store this season.
Unfortunately, for Hoyer, there are precious few fans who are known for their patience. There's a host of adjectives to describe disgruntled fans, and none of them are good for any athlete who doesn't perform to high standards.
The same applies to owners who have invested what is now billions of dollars to purchase a NFL franchise. To think that Browns owner Jimmy Haslam didn't have some say in the drafting of Manziel would be naive. He might not have grabbed the phone from the hand of general manager Ray Farmer and demanded the selection to the contact at Radio City Music Hall, but you can be sure a few fingers were figuratively pressed into Farmer's back.
The line has been cast to Hoyer. The hook will be pulled soon if the results are poor. Will it be like 1999, when Ty Detmer was kicked aside for first overall draft pick Tim Couch following a 43-0 opening-game loss to the Steelers? Or how about 2007, when Charlie Frye failed to recognize blindside blitzes with everyone on the sideline screaming in a 34-7 opening-game loss to the Steelers? Frye was gone (literally to Seattle) in favor of Derek Anderson a week later.
Hoyer didn't catch a break with the schedule, which includes a road game against the Steelers Sunday followed by home games against the Saints and Ravens. Why not just lead Hoyer to the edge of the cliff and holler "boo!"
Hoyer probably needs a win among those three games. If not, he at least needs to show that the losses aren't on his shoulders primarily.
A bye follows the first three games, setting up a road game against the Tennessee Titans. Tennessee is the state where Haslam's Pilot Flying J headquarters are located. You think he would be anxious to unveil Manziel in front of his southern buddies?
My guess is yes.