This week the Cleveland Browns put the final touches on what may end up being the prologue of Johnny Manziel's NFL career obituary. Browns fans, as they are wont to do, are more than happy to move on to a new starting quarterback and the prospect of a new leader to take them to the promised land.
Manziel will be available for trade to any team that wants him after the Super Bowl, but with each passing week and new transgression - real or imagined - his options are thinning. The Dallas Cowboys, a team often berated by opposing fans for their negotiable hiring morals, may not even be willing to take a risk on having an unreliable backup to Tony Romo's unreliable collarbone. This Super Bowl ramp-up may be open season for empty double-breasted commentators to spout Cam Newton drivel, but they can still find enough time in their schedules to chum the Johnny Football Hate Waters and catch some big ratings.
"I'd refuse to talk about a guy who has no business being in this league." - Brian Billick on Johnny Manziel https://t.co/X9asTHjc8M— FS1 (@FS1) February 2, 2016
Two years ago I wrote about Johnny Manziel and the effect he had on Texas A&M in his brief career. Love him or hate him, he captured the world's attention with his eyeball-gripping play and pedal-down lifestyle. It may be that during his time at Texas A&M he followed just enough of the rules to keep from flaming out on the field, or more likely he was on just small enough of a stage with just enough handlers to keep his excesses relatively quiet. (It is amazing to think of his time at A&M as relatively quiet, but it was just that.)
Or maybe things were no different. Maybe everyone was OK with Johnny Football living out the social life of an 80's hair band so long as he was a savant on the football field. Although Manziel was pretty arguably the Browns' best option for winning on the field this season, that wasn't saying much and the actual results were mixed, a savage cocktail of brilliant moments, bonehead plays, and (one would have thought) humbling demonstrations of the speed of the pro game.
Maybe if you want to be a rock star off the field you have to be one on the field too.
If that is the case, and if Manziel really is as troubled as he is accused daily of being, then we are all just a little culpable for it - a maroon-clad sea of enablers willing to acknowledge but judiciously overlook a little "boys will be boys" so long as our team was in the spotlight, on Sportscenter, and in the running for the SEC West.
I hope we aren't witnessing the beginning of the end of Johnny's football career. I hope that someone else gives him a chance. I hope that this is just another bullet point in the "Quarterbacks We Had No Idea How To Use" exhibit at the Browns museum. I hope that he can learn to balance what he wants to do in all aspects of his life in a way where the world can keep being amazed and entertained by his talent. And if he needs help to do it, I hope he takes to heart the words of another comeback kid on his stints in rehab.
I reached out for help, and I ran with it. You can reach out for help in kind of a half-assed way and you'll get it and you won't take advantage of it. It's not that difficult to overcome these seemingly ghastly problems, what's hard is to decide to do it.
- Robert Downey Jr.