(Editor’s Note: This column will feature some language that may be deemed inappropriate, reader discretion is advised.)
Sucker. Idiot. Dumb-ass.
I have been called it many times by my own fellow Cleveland Browns fans who though that I was both naïve and stupid enough to buy into the hype that was soon-to-be former Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback and monumental first round bust, Johnny Manziel.
As you can see from the featured image that I chose for this blog, it is that of my former Manziel XXL jersey that I decided to put out of its misery and throw in my apartment complex here in suburban Cleveland.
While it would have been more cliché to do a LeBron James-style jersey-burning, I think I speak for all Browns fans when I say that March 9th, the first official day when Cleveland can rid themselves of the two-year drama-filled, hard-partying, no-talented human enema called Johnny Football, will be celebrated as if the Browns themselves had won the Super Bowl.
For those that know me both as Founder and Publisher of this fine online magazine, and in person, they will tell that that I was one of Manziel’s biggest supporters and duped-over apologists. Yes, yes, I’ve already heard the proverbial “ I told you so’s” and “ your QB evaluation skills/blogging sucks, etc.” but while I was wrong on Manziel—and I’ll proudly admit it, so was everyone other Cleveland Browns fan—er, sucker.
While I take responsibility for letting Manziel’s marketing/hype machine—aka SECPN, the Worldwide Cheerleader in SEC Sports—sway my line of thinking in replaying his “exploits” non-stop, Cleveland—as seemingly always—was in desperate need for a QB.
Going into the 2014 NFL Draft, I wrote about why Manziel and the Browns were a perfect fit here, despite many concerns about his off-the-field antics and maturity issues. looking back on it now, I regret not paying more attention to those reports, the same way that the Browns regret not heeding the advice of that $100,000 study that had current Minnesota Vikings quarterback Teddy Bridgewater rated the top quarterback, followed by current franchise signal callers in Jacksonville and Oakland in Blake Bortles and Derek Carr respectively.
The first red flag for many in Cleveland was when he gave the middle finger in a nationally-televised preseason game against the Washington Redskins, which would be played over and over on ESPN. Sadly, it was the first of many on-the-field incidents regarding Manziel and his “maturity”.
There would be other off-the-field run-ins in Cleveland-area night clubs and restaurants that I—along with many other fans—would rush to the defense of Manziel on in accusing the media of crucifying him, when in fact those in the fourth estate were just doing their job in reporting the facts, and not what we wanted to see or hear.
Like many Manziel fans, I supported him going to rehab in the off-season in the hopes that whatever demons he was dealing with in the form of substance abuse would be exorcised. And for a good period of time, he appeared to be turn the proverbial corner throughout training camp and the pre-season.
Even during the regular season, Manziel flashed signs of potential in games vs. the New York Jets, Tennessee Titans and San Francisco 49ers. While two of the three aforementioned teams are now picking in the top ten of the upcoming 2016 NFL Draft, Manizel showed that he had some of that ol’ Johnny Football sizzle.
Little did suckers such as me and the rest of the Manziel mafia know that this was all part of a long con filled with smoke and mirrors.
Right before the Browns primetime matchup vs. the Ravens and during the bye week, it would come out that Manziel lied to coaches—and had his friends help in covering up his whereabouts that he was in Austin, Texas partying in bars, after promising NOT to do anything to embarrass the team, fresh off of being named starter.
This on the heels of a domestic violence incident involving his girlfriend out in Avon Lake and the NFL deciding not to discipline him, being named starter and putting up decent numbers in a road loss at Pittsburgh, began a self-implosion of the Johnny Manziel persona.
Manziel would lose the starting job to McCown(again), and be demoted to third-string behind the recently signed Austin Davis. Davis would in turn, light a spark in the Browns last-second loss to Baltimore on Monday Night Football in truly excruciating Cleveland style, after coming in for an injured McCown. In showing his true colors once again, it just added to the furor that Manziel was nothing more than an immature and spoiled brat that has been enabled by years of being rewarded for his reckless behavior.
Only for us in Cleveland, would it turn from bad to universally embarrassing.
After being ruled out for the season finale against the Pittsburgh Steelers, Johnny Manziel was reportedly out and about in Vegas wearing a blond wig, glasses and mustache while using the alias of “Billy” after allegedly suffering a concussion, and days after a video was posted on social media singing “March Madness” and signing a fan’s $100 bill before the Niners game, he failing to check in with the team’s medical staff, as players with concussions are supposed to do.
It was at this point that I was DONE with him as a fan and threw my $100 dollar Nike jersey of his in the garage where it belonged. Let’s not forget the tasty little nugget about him showing up to practice drunk and the Browns allegedly covering up his condition too.
Way to be, Cleveland!
This is coming from the heart, not only as a life-long fan, but as one who defended him MULTIPLE times on this site, that the reason why Manziel’s antics hurt so much is because many such as myself tried to see the forest for the trees in terms of his talent vs. the hype and perceived media persecution.
For the last 20 some-odd years since the Browns were revived back in 1999, Cleveland has been searching for “their guy”. From Tim Couch, Brady Quinn, Charlie Frye, Brandon Weeden and now Manziel, Cleveland’s search for a face of their once-storied franchise has been proverbial torture. Fans such as myself WANTED to believe that Manziel was maybe the “one”, and much like a man or woman searching endlessly for the perfect partner, we as Cleveland fans were willing to overlook his many flaws and apologize for his bad behavior.
It really got to a point of questioning my Manziel fandom AFTER his alleged assault of his girlfriend out in Avon Lake, he confirmed my separation from him after another report surfaced of him hitting her AGAIN, causing her to lose hearing in her left eardrum down in Fort Worth. It really reached a point of no return when his own father, Paul told the Dallas Morning News that he reused to enter rehab and that he may not live past his 24th birthday.
That tells me, that he is self-destructing, beyond help and that football as a life is now done.
Sadly, what hurts the MOST is that all of his actions are that of a child rebelling against his parents and throwing a temper tantrum after not getting his way. While he will never join the likes of Art Modell, John Elway, Michael Jordan and the South Beach version of LeBron James, Manziel will undoubtedly go down as one of the NFL’s all-time worst busts, EVER.
Many would dream to grow up as privileged as Manziel, play football in a football-obsessed state as Texas and shine on the brightest stage in college sports in playing in the SEC. What makes this even MORE infuriating is how he doesn’t seem to give a proverbial f&%k about anyone but himself.
Cleveland is a hard-working, blue-collar Rust Belt town built on toughness and being straight-forward. Perhaps it’s a culture clash of Ohio meat-and-potatoes vs. Texas enchiladas sizzle-and-flash, but Manziel rubbed a lot of people with his dumb-ass money sign, his off-the-field drinking and boozing and hotshot I-don’t-care attitude.
Cleveland deserves better, and it is not Manziel.
I mean, he makes former No.2 overall pick in the 1998 NFL Draft—and the guy pick after ol’ Peyton—Ryan Leaf look like Joe Montana, which is HARD to do. But when you win the Heisman Trophy as a freshman, self-invent a flashy nickname and parade around like a hotshot, you must deal with the slings and arrows that come your way. I know that I speak for all Browns fans when I say that Manziel’s off-the-field actions were nothing more than a proverbial middle finger to the team, players who stuck up for him, fans and writers such as myself that bought into him and a city HOPING that he was the guy.
Turns out that the joke is on Cleveland once more, but more ironically Manziel may turn out to be the biggest punch line of them all. Come March 9th, the joke that was once Johnny Football will be no more and the Browns can finally move on—much like my former Manziel jersey already has, once and for all.
Overhyped. Drama-Filled Headache. Inmature. Not Worth It. Selfish. Self-Absorbed and Spoiled.
That is how all in Cleveland–and the rest of the NFL–will forever describe him now.