Cleveland Browns football fans are no doubt happy in the Dawg Pound tonight, as their current starting quarterback, Johnny Manziel is clearly made of Teflon; nothing sticks to him, not one thing. On Nov. 17, as the Associated Press reported: “NFL clears Johnny Manziel from wrongdoing in domestic case,” public reaction ranges from upbeat rejoicing over “their Johnny Football” being restored to his place atop the PR galaxy, all the way down to sheer disgust as Johnny once again skated away again from any accountability for his (latest) public mishap.
The women’s advocacy organization WeAreUltraViolet.org has issued its own opinion on the ruling today as well. In a press release today, Nita Chaudhary, cofounder of UltraViolet issued the following statement:
This case is yet another example of the NFL failing to lead and showing their so-called ‘tough’ domestic violence policy is not worth the paper it is written on. This case just demonstrates what has been clear for sometime, as long as Roger Goodell is Commissioner the NFL will never take violence against women seriously. Shame on the NFL and shame on the Cleveland Browns.”
UltraViolet is keenly aware of the history of the NFL in insufficiently investigating or validating multiple claims of domestic abuse, particularly when women are brave enough to bring it forward. Posts on their website, WeAreUltraViolet.org, specifically questions direction by NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, more so than many other women’s advocacy groups around, and rightfully so. They’ve been vocal specifically as to Commissioner Goodell’s pattern to protect the players who are most valuable to their team over and over again, above any potential victims of domestic abuse.
The group has followed how, after Ray Rice, “the NFL pledged millions to fight domestic violence” and issued an interesting report showing how the money was spent. It’s a report worth reading. The NFL promised to “educate its players, revamp its personal conduct policy, and support leading domestic violence and sexual assault awareness and prevention groups.” Though the national scale spends of those funds are “good,” UltraViolet notes the local domestic violence groups are still struggling to stay afloat.”
The NFL “suits” tell the general public, by decisions such as clearing Manziel, essentially that players will not be accountable for even endangering the life of a woman while she’s a passenger in a car going 90 miles per hour and wants to get out before a crash happens, perhaps? But wait, what good is a battered woman to the NFL on a Sunday afternoon? She can’t play a single down that big money can place a guess on the line on the outcome. It’s all big business, all the time, and these women are just minor inconveniences as impediments in the way of the NFL. Not all players feel that way, but then (see previous story), the NFL fines a player for wearing purple socks to support fighting domestic abuse, because his mother died from that.
Beyond the Browns and their due diligence, when you see Jerry Jones hiring Greg Hardy, that just makes it more disgusting to those who believe women’s safety overrides the need for Sunday afternoon playtime with the big boys. Jones drew hearty criticism from fans when he signed Greg Hardy. Yet, today the Dallas Morning News explains “why Jerry Jones won’t single Greg Hardy out about missed team meeting.” Teflon Hardy, Teflon Manziel. The Huffington Post is more blunt in their headline: “All That Talk of Greg Hardy Being a Locker Room Leader is BS.”
It was no accident that Manziel came “home” to Texas A&M on Nov. 8, being certain to be seen on camera on the sidelines with his arms on the shoulders of Aggie quarterback Kyler Murray and soon-to-be-released offensive coordinator Jake Spavital, as he posted “Family” with the picture on his twitter page, and then to be stand with Aggie Corps of Cadets members for the television close-up while holding one of his signature footballs. It was critical PR strategy to re-enlist the love and support of the Texas Aggie family; you have to hand it to the publicist for crisis management. Problem is, like the game of “whack-a-mole,” you never know when the next issue is going to arise, so stay alert.
It’s also not a coincidence that Cleveland Head Coach Mike Pettine “announced today that the Browns are handling the starting quarterback job over to Johnny Manziel for the remainder of the season.” The Cleveland Browns website has their own report: “NFL statement on Johnny Manziel investigation”:
Our investigation included a thorough review of information from law enforcement and our own interviews with multiple individuals, including the two involved in the incident. Based on the information gathered, we have concluded that there is an insufficient basis on which to take disciplinary action. In all cases of this nature, under the Personal Conduct Policy our concern goes well beyond the issue of discipline, and we have made comprehensive professional resources available on a confidential basis.”
Even stranger, the television commentators are today reacting to Cleveland’s statement, chiming in that the Browns should have named Manziel as their starter long ago, given him more experience and playing time. Then again, that’s what they’re supposed to say. There’s a bandwagon to jump on, so they are jumping on right away. Six more games will prove who is correct and who is in error for that school of thought.
The Cleveland Browns are 2-8 so far this season, after their 30-9 loss to the Steelers on Sunday. Josh McCown is the better quarterback and he could come back. Connor Shaw is still on the roster for his second year. Record-setting Shaw was drafted out of South Carolina in the same draft as Manziel, and really was able to successfully move the ball downfield in the same early season game last year where Johnny was not able to do so. Shaw is smart, has an arm, is stable, grounded, and absolutely not being considered as a starter—that has to be simply an economic statement of how the Browns value their players and adjudge ability incorrectly. They could at least develop a player who’s greatest controversy last season was being concerned whether a local church might not welcome an infant being present during worship service, and it turns out they were welcoming, so not one real problem on or off the field.
The decision to name Johnny as the permanent starter will last for how many more games now? Will the Browns get their millions worth and move the team out of 4th place in the AFC North to maybe the 3rd place in the AFC North with that strategic announcement?
Today’s NFL ruling and Cleveland Browns’ announcement is almost laughable, if it weren’t so sad. Many classic TV fans remember well the episode of “The Twilight Zone” where talented actor Bill Mumy (then age 7), portrayed Anthony Freemont, a spoiled little brat who held an entire town hostage because he could “hear what they were thinking.” If he didn’t like what he heard, he would issue retribution and eliminate or injure those who sought to oppose him. He could “wish you away into the corn field.” That episode also featured Cloris Leachman.
Like a bad rerun of the “Twilight Zone” episode titled, “It’s a Good Life,” anytime someone says something negative against Johnny Manziel, or tries to hold him accountable for his actions on any level, his fans who adore him, blindly, turn right around and say “Haters gonna hate” and heap their wrath upon anyone who dares to question their beloved Aggie player. Johnny’s not fully to blame for that—his fans actually include many, many bright women who just cut him all the slack in the world and essentially give him a free pass, every…single…time.
In a 23-minute television script, Rod Serling set the stage for some 50 years later, when the 2015 Anthony would be portrayed by Johnny Manziel. And together, all the people in Cleveland and all he brainiacs in the NFL said in unison, “It’s a good thing, a really good thing, that Johnny plays football for us. We love Johnny; he’s going to start for us the rest of the whole season, all six games. That’s right, a really good thing.” Clearly, we are in “The Twilight Zone.”