A few facts about Johnny Manziel are indisputable. He was born in Texas, and played both high school and college football there.
He's the only freshman EVER to win the Heisman trophy.
He's now the ripe old age of 23.
And he's out of a job -- at least for the time being.
Many would say it's his own fault, and perhaps they have a reasonable argument. But let's take a look with the proverbial hindsight.
Having already attained almost cult hero status during his prep and college years at Texas A&M, Manziel was one more thing. An arguably good looking red-blooded young American jock that liked to party when he wasn't playing football -- that would soon be a multimillionaire playing quarterback in the NFL. Let's just say he likely didn't have many problems getting dates and could pretty much gain admittance to any party -- anywhere.
Sure enough, the Cleveland Browns made Manziel the 22nd overall NFL draft choice just a couple years ago. Johnny Football signed a 4 year contract for over $8 million, over $7 million of which was guaranteed. He's already collected around 5 -- minus taxes of course -- and even though the Browns recently released him, they're still on the hook for over a million bucks a year for the next two years.
Some claim Johnny Manziel has been a "bust". His stats aren't all that and he can't seem to "keep his nose clean". There's another way of looking at it.
Given he was a first round NFL draft choice, and further given there are only 32 of them in most years, Manziel was in very select company. Put another way, add up every man, woman and child in this country, and roughly one out of every 10 MILLION of them each year gets such a nod. There are 10,000 of the "one-percenters" we hear some politicians railing about for every first round draft pick. Having attained that status, it's difficult to argue Manziel was a "bust". Who are the elite indeed?
And let's remember he was only 21 when thrust into the NFL with the Cleveland Browns, an historically bad team anyway. Peyton Manning was still at the Univ of Tenn and Tom Brady at Michigan at the same age. They eventually had the good fortune to be drafted by competent franchises that were trending up at the time. Not so with Manziel and the Browns. Collectively, they were and remain terrible. Plopping some wide-eyed Texas kid down in Cleveland and expecting him to be a miracle worker was asking the impossible.
Yet the media continues to crucify Manziel over his off-field "discrepancies". And the ever gullible public that long ago became foolishly addicted to "political correctness" also continues to worship at the altar of the talking heads and scribes.
Yeah, I get it. Manziel went to a frat party somewhere along the line. Who cares? Isn't this the same thing most young talented jocks do?
And he was recently allegedly spotted at a club in Hollywood. Again -- who cares? It's the NFL off-season. He's of legal age and, last time I looked, the United States was still pretty much a free country. So what's the big deal? It's not like he shot up a school or tried to plant a bomb on a plane. The dude's 23, got bucks, and is having a good time in his personal life. Yet somehow we are supposed to believe this makes him a bad person. Hey, what could possibly be more "normal"?
Oh wait. He was still in the concussion protocol and was supposed to report to team headquarters to be examined. Again, like a good little droid. Well, guess what? It's nothing that couldn't have waited a few days, or even weeks. It's not like Johnny Football was getting clocked by blitzing linebackers doing a little partying in LA-LA land. In fact, it may well have been therapeutic. Maybe the powers that be should commission some studies on THAT.
Of course, we have heard even more allegations that Manziel had an altercation with his girlfriend -- the dreaded "domestic dispute". Horrors, he might even have pulled her hair, some claim. Well, who knows? I wasn't there, neither were you, and the media is once again trying to connect dots that may or may not even exist.
No charges were filed in the original incident or non, but some Texas police department has re-opened their investigation looking for something -- anything -- to nail him with. Again, who knows? Maybe she pulled HIS hair (or ears), or kicked him in the shins (or nether regions), or tried to scratch his eyes out, all of which could be considered assaultive behavior -- and he was merely trying to defend himself. Or maybe nothing worth pursuing happened at all. Without a video, we don't know and likely never will. But the media hounds never dig trying to find a feel good story, do they? No, it always about whatever dirt, real or fabricated, they can come up with.
And SURPRISE, the Cleveland Browns are closely monitoring this latest "investigation". Now that they've released Johnny Manziel -- while still owing him a couple million bucks -- maybe the cops and hence Czar Goodell and his merry band of inquisitors can come up with something to justify suspending Manziel from the NFL.
On the surface, it would seem preposterous. How can you give a guy time off that doesn't even currently work for your company?
But other hanky-panky could be afoot. If the almighty NFL league office hands down a suspension to Manziel -- even in absentia -- the Browns might -- just MIGHT have cause to void the remainder of his contract terms. Goodbye the 2+ million they still owe Johnny Football. It's chump change for an NFL franchise, but Cleveland has long been a chump operation anyway.
Idle thought: What are the chances somebody in the Browns' front office is behind the Texas cops reopening the case to take another look at the Manziel/girlfriend affair, in the hope that they may find something -- anything -- to charge him with?
Would that be conniving cheap-shot dirty pool? You betcha. But it's an election year. In the whole scheme of things, such a low blow would be business as usual. It's not right -- but it's most certainly real.
Two words. Wotta country.
But again, Manziel's still only 23, full of piss, vinegar, ego, and has a penchant for going out and having a good time when he's not playing football. Of course he has some maturing to do. Just what about all that is so abnormal for someone of his age and talent? Throw a few million bucks into the equation and should this be a great surprise? It's just the proverbial wild oats.
He just might turn out to be a superstar for some NFL team in the future. Given the right team with the right system that can fully utilize his considerable talents, hard telling what he might accomplish.
Or maybe he'll wind up truly being a bust. But the media vultures continuing to prey on his every move (especially off the field) in search of whatever "dirt" they can drag up and sensationalize aren't exactly helpful to his future possible development.
Here's an idea. Give the kid a chance to get a few things out of his system, like most American males are in need of at his age, and let's see what happens.
Is that asking too much?