Johnny Manziel, a magnet for trouble and poster boy for bad behavior, was thrown a curve as Cleveland Browns head coach Mike Pettine announced “Josh McCown will start Monday night’s game against Baltimore in place of Manziel,” according to an AP report filed Nov. 24, 2015. The warning clouds appeared yesterday as media reports surfaced of a video of Manziel partying during his bye week in Austin, Texas, just around the corner (1376 miles) from Cleveland, Ohio. Two weekends ago, Manziel flew to College Station on Nov. 8, to be photographed with the Aggie football team he once led. Turns out, he should have flown to Nashville to watch the Aggies play Vanderbilt this last weekend. But he didn’t.
Just one week after being cleared from a blue ribbon committee of the NFL investigating the player for possible domestic violence, the Cleveland Browns were anxious to name Manziel starter. And, in entirely expected fashion, the sports journalists were overjoyed and overly complimentary of Manziel, joining together in the chorus of “The Browns should have done this all season long, given Johnny a chance to prove himself on the field.”
Manziel can unquestionably document the fact that he was welcomed by fans, team, coaches and sports journalists alike as the starter for the Browns on Nov. 17, a spot he held for exactly seven days. Today Coach Pettine had to blow the whistle on Johnny after an embarrassing video of a weekend spent in Austin surfaced on social media.
From Heisman Trophy winner to NFL third-string bench warmer in 1,000+ days, it’s nothing but a rotten shame for every Texas Aggie fan to have to watch a (redshirt) freshman player be the first freshman to receive a Heisman Trophy go straight to the remainder bin after 1.5 years of a professional career has elapsed. Children and parents alike across the country bought into the story of the Manziel journey; everyone was rooting for him to do well, particularly those wearing maroon and white school colors. Aggie fans stood in the lines in the heat for hours in College Station just this last summer and paid big dollars for the opportunity to get his official memorabilia signed, and then he chose to rise to headlines again for things that make fellow Aggies shake their heads in disgust and disappointment.
After handing Johnny Manziel every single chance to make good in his NFL career with the Cleveland Browns, on Nov. 24, Head Coach Mike Pettine finally “did something” after having his entire football team’s name and reputation continually dragged into every single trauma drama conceivable. Ever since the team drafted their Heisman winner, Manziel starting controlling the publicity surrounding the Browns into an aura of extreme focus on his daily activities, his living large and in charge nightlife style, despite the urgent pleadings of his longtime fans to settle down and focus on football.
This time there’s no NFL investigation, there’s no police blotter to review, and no “haters gonna hate” phrase to chant or post online, or flag to wave in his behalf. Johnny Manziel had an off week to rest, practice, and stay focused for 10 days after having been handed the reins to direct “his” team for the remainder of the season. And for a team that was 2-8 so far this season, the only place to go was up. All eyes were on Manziel to succeed and grow from the learning process he professed he’d been through for the past year. The TMZ Sports video shows champagne and mouthing rap songs in an Austin, Texas, party spot were Manziel’s choice of where and how to spend the weekend.
All the 22-year-old kid (he’ll be 23 in two weeks) had to do was stay put in Cleveland for seven more days, lead his team well for the next six weeks and he had a shot at an NFL future, that every kid dreams of, providing a secure future and a career. Manziel continues to shadow box career success and do his level best to pound it into the ground. May he soon announce what he really wants of professional football (clearly not a career with the Cleveland Browns) and work to achieve it. He was good once. He can be again. He’s just the last on his block to know that.