The Johnny Manziel era hasn’t even really started in Cleveland, yet I’m already not feeling very good about it. And I’m not the only one.
I didn’t have any problem with the picture of him hanging with Rob Gronkowski and a bunch of ladies in Las Vegas over Memorial Day weekend. Good for him.
The inflatable swan and a bottle of champagne thing probably didn’t look great to some people, but I thought it was funny.
His latest off field stunt, however, now has me legitimately concerned.
There’s a video making the rounds all over the Internet from a party for Manziel’s friend Drake in Houston in which Manziel holds up a stack of cash to his ear like it is a phone and tells the camera he “can’t hear you because there’s too much money in my f—— hand!”
Even if you are a hardcore Manziel supporter, you have to admit it’s a bad look for a guy that’s supposed to be the new face of the franchise for the Browns. Stacks of cash? Dropping an f-bomb on a video? Eyes barely open, presumably because he’s so inebriated?
If Manziel and the Browns were a stock, I’d be selling. And fast. I don’t trust him and I sure as heck wouldn’t invest my hard earned money in him.
“Some people say you can work hard and play hard, but I think my biggest issue is when you’re drafted in the first round, you’re the face of the franchise,” former Browns QB Brady Quinn told me recently on Sirius XM NFL Radio. “And when you’ve got a video that comes out like that, I understand he’s trying to have a good time and live his life off the field, but there’s a little kid watching that, and now he’s looking up to him as a role model. …
“If you were asking Jimmy Haslam (the Browns owner), is that really what you want the face of your franchise doing?”
The answer is no. The fact that the first three Browns fans that called into my morning radio show recently all used words such as “disappointing,” “embarrassing,” and “concerning” tells you that it’s already an issue for Haslam and the Browns whether they would admit that publicly or not.
Manziel’s behavior is getting progressively worse and eroding the public confidence in both the player and organization. That’s a problem.
Browns fans are starting to question whether Manziel “gets it.” All indications thus far are that he doesn’t.
I don’t want to hear that he’s a “kid having fun” anymore, either. He’s a professional who spent three years in college and just signed a four-year, $8.25 million contract. He told everybody that would listen during the pre-draft process, that the “Johnny Football” persona and lifestyle was behind him. I guess not. It looks more and more like that was one heck of an Eddie Haskell routine that Manziel pulled off, possibly pulling the wool over the Browns’ eyes.
“The questions about Johnny were all about his maturity and mental capacity and I feel like he’s answering those questions right now. Cleveland can’t be happy,” former long-time NFL quarterback Sage Rosenfels told me.
Current Lions backup quarterback Dan Orlovsky chimed in as well, asking someone to “Find me a QB with his off the field lifestyle that has had a lot of success.”
That’s just it. You can’t. Even if you say guys like Tom Brady, Peyton Manning and Drew Brees are bad examples because they are in their mid-to-late thirties, what about youngsters like Andrew Luck, Russell Wilson and Robert Griffin III?
Manziel is not the first quarterback to ever have fun. Plenty of them have and still do. They are just smart and discreet about the way in which they go about it because they understand the public attention that goes along with their job. It comes with the territory and they accept that.
I remember calling the starting quarterback of the team I was on one time during my career on a Saturday in the offseason and he told me he was at Home Depot getting supplies to make a beer funnel. He liked to party. He just did it at private residences around people he could trust. If we went out, he never had more than two beers. He would’ve liked to have had more, but he knew he couldn’t. He said the message boards and blogs would be all over him.
That’s why I hate being critical of Manziel’s off field exploits. I feel like a stick in the mud. I feel old. And I’d like to think I’m neither of those things.
The truth is, I hope he does have success. I’m a radio talk-show host. That’d be great for me. Johnny’s great for me. Plus, Browns fans are extremely loyal and passionate. They deserve a winner.
Too bad it’s looking less and less like Manziel’s going to be the guy to bring it to them.