This week, several media outlets including NBC Sports Pro Football Talk are reporting Johnny Manziel’s drug and alcohol issues are continuing to escalate. I felt compelled to remind folks how good this kid can be when he has his act together. I will detail his problems and also address his football future. In preparing to write this piece, I ended up drawing a parallel that surprised even myself.
First off, no one should lose sight of the fact that we’re dealing with a human being here. He clearly has substance abuse as well as other issues. I hope he gets the help he needs.
Manziel took college football by storm during his freshman 2012 season. He accounted for 47 total touchdowns and led Texas A&M to an upset win over top-ranked Alabama. He became the first ever freshman to win the Heisman Trophy. His schoolyard style of play was simply mesmerizing to watch. Feel free to relive some of it below courtesy of the vetnameseguy YouTube channel. I sure enjoyed doing so.
By his sophomore season, his “Johnny Football” nickname was a regular part of American vocabulary. For me, it was the Chick-fil-A Bowl comeback victory led by Manziel that made me a believer. The win over Duke would turn out to be his final college game. Despite questions about his size and style of play translating to the NFL, he declared for the draft with two years of college eligibility left. He was selected by the Cleveland Browns with the 22nd overall pick in the 2014 draft.
Manziel’s rookie season was disastrous. Allegations of being late to practice and skipping film study prevented him from seeing the field until late in the season. He was shut out by the Bengals in his first career start, injured early the following week against Carolina, and missed the season finale due to that injury.
The Browns continued to play quarterback carousel the following season before naming Manziel the starter for the remainder of the season in November. From there though, it all unraveled very quickly. He was demoted back to third string days after the starter announcement when video of him partying in Texas during the team’s bye week surfaced online.
This was the latest in a long line of off the field issues for Manziel dating back to his college days. The details are well documented. He has dealt with everything from skipping injury treatment to gambling in Vegas to trips to rehab, and more recently domestic violence allegations. Following this past season, he was released by the Browns in March after another legal dispute.
The following month, well-known agent Drew Rosenhaus took the unenviable task of representing the embattled star. That partnership never got off the ground. Rosenhaus dropped Manziel after less than two months, saying he needed to seek help for his issues. Subsequently, Nike also dropped the former Aggie.
Since then, Manziel has continued partying in the public eye. No other NFL team has given him a look. However, if he can get his act together I feel he is deserving of another shot. I realize it is a massive if. Manziel’s football career most resembles that of his polar opposite in terms of character, Tim Tebow.
There really are so many similarities. They both are Heisman Trophy winners who dominated college football. They both became cultural phenomenon for time. Tebow’s name even became a verb during his streak of miracle wins with the Broncos. Also, there are questions about how their unorthodox playing styles translate to the NFL. The most important similarity may be that teams are scared away from signing either guy due to the media circus that follows them everywhere, although each circus exist for vastly different reasons,
Tebow missed wide-open throws and struggled to complete half of his throws in the NFL. He got four shots in the leauge. Keep in mind that it took Peyton Manning to unseat Tebow in Denver, the best chance he ever got. From a football standpoint, the only significant difference may be that Tebow had a small taste of success in the NFL thanks to a fantastic organization and top-flight coaching. Manziel has not had that success yet. Think about it though, if Tebow got four shots, isn’t Johnny Football deserving of the second? Like I said before though, his first priority needs to be getting his life together. If he can somehow manage that, I believe there is still a phenomenal athlete they can be successful in the NFL somewhere in there.