There was a time, earlier in his career, when Johnny Manziel’s exploits seemed to have a comic value to them. Though many of his off-field incidents involved alcohol, it was painted in more of a “look how crazy and cool this guy is” light. Pictures of him drinking champagne on an inflatable swan, talking drunkenly into a money-phone, videos of him inebriated and wishing LeBron James a happy birthday. All of these were just excerpts from the legend of Johnny Football.
In a sense, even the troubles he was getting into this year with the Cleveland Browns still had the same aura about them. Sure, they were seen a little differently because he spent the first chunk of 2015 in rehab. That said, even hearing about his reported trip to Vegas, during which he was apparently wearing a wig and going by the name Billy, you couldn’t help but see it as yet another wild off-the-field story. “Let him live,” was a phrase commonly stated by his diehard supporters.
Unfortunately, the events of this past week are doing nothing but shining a light on the fact this goes deeper than a young man enjoying a lavish lifestyle.
A domestic dispute with his ex-girlfriend in Texas last Saturday all but ended Manziel’s time in Cleveland. The team released a pointed statement Tuesday which implied he would be cut as soon as NFL rules allowed it. Since then, more details have emerged from the weekend’s incident, claiming Manziel struck his ex several times, appeared to be on drugs and threatened to kill both her and himself.
This morning, Manziel’s agent announced he was dropping his client after several “emotional and very personal discussions.” The quarterback’s father told the Dallas Morning News he didn’t think his son would see his next birthday if he didn’t get help, something Manziel apparently refused twice in the past week.
With no agent and, come March 9, no place on an NFL roster, Manziel is about to approach a crucial point in his life. Though he reportedly believes there are other teams interested in signing him, it’s become very clear that the best thing for him is time away from the league.
Per ESPN’s Ed Werder, Manziel has apparently told people he thinks the Dallas Cowboys and Los Angeles Rams are interested in him. Even if this is true after such a tumultuous week, it’s impossible to argue the only thing he needs is a change of scenery.
These issues Manziel is dealing with are not stemmed from being in Cleveland. This is one thing that can’t be blamed on a historically mismanaged franchise. The Browns have tried numerous times to get him help, only recently being pushed to the brink and cutting him after almost two years of dealing with the same problems.
If all of the red flags surrounding Manziel were just based on him partying harder than he should be, and if there was another team willing to deal with it, then it wouldn’t be as big of an issue. Said team would just be seen as a little more lax than necessary, but that’s about it.
However, it’s a different story when domestic abuse is involved and a father is publicly saying his son might not live another year without help.
You can’t honestly believe moving Manziel from Cleveland to L.A. will make any of this better. Additionally, this week Cowboys legend Michael Irvin claimed Dallas should sign the troubled quarterback and that team owner Jerry Jones could help him.
This statement was off-base even before details of Manziel’s latest incident came to light. Now, it’s outright insane.
The fact is any team willing to sign Manziel would only be enabling him. It would be looking at all of the incidents from his short career in the league and saying, “well, it’s nothing a new locker room can’t fix.”
That belief is dead wrong. Manziel is not just a glorified party-boy; he’s someone both friends and family are deeply concerned about. He’s someone the NFL will now have to investigate for the second time in four months.
Manziel’s problems are no longer a laughing matter. This isn’t about catching him at a bar anymore, or filming him dancing around in a club. This is about getting him help he desperately needs.
That help will not come from another NFL team. It needs to come from outside the league, and that’s where Manziel needs to spend a lot of time from here on out.