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Johnny Manziel: Starting NFL Quarterback

Gig 'Em, #2

Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

Johnny Manziel has lived through more drama in the last few years than most people can fit comfortably into a lifetime. He's seen the highest peaks and the most dismal valleys (key elements in any quest, and his quest is far from over) and weathered them accordingly by focusing on the one thing that he was born to do: play football.

Johnny Manziel is 22 years old.

He could theoretically have still been playing football at Texas A&M right now, were it not for the fact that he is hardwired to be Johnny Manziel. The same spark and component build that made him such a powerful force on the field also drove him to the NFL at the earliest possible moment. Since then, he's withstood more of the same: off-field issues, rehab, on-field highs and lows, the tribulations of a second-string NFL quarterback.

He will start tonight at quarterback in the NFL. He sure isn’t getting to ease back into the role. Johnny will be leading the sputtering Browns into Cincinnati to play the first place, undefeated Bengals on national television.

There are countless media members and fans that will tune in dying for Johnny to fall flat on his face. He’s certainly earned his fair share of criticism. He’s brash, confident, and has a stiff upper lip forged out of titanium.

He’s also tortured by his own share of demons. He lives the dichotomy of craving the spotlight that simultaneously makes him wildly uncomfortable. He’s human – flawed, selfish, caring. He’s still growing up before our eyes.

Johnny’s a villain, but he's our villain. He’s at his best when things are stacked against him. He’s got a chip on his shoulder that the current A&M quarterbacks don’t yet have. They weren't told to play safety. They didn’t ride the bench with zero signs of ever playing.

The same kid who rescued a kitten from a busy street barely 38 months ago is now one of the most prominent figures in sports. He's a lightning rod for derision and admiration alike, but no one will dispute his competitive nature. Tonight he'll showcase one of the rawest and purest athletic skillsets we've ever seen and leave everything out on the field.

We're rooting for you, John Football.