Behold Johnny Football’s funeral pyre
A spark that could have led to fire
With national sports acclaim and fame
He flamed out with only himself to blame
But Johnny Manziel’s fall from grace, if he ever had any, is far from poetic justice. It may even end up sad. The legend of Johnny Football is currently a cautionary tale. It’s a lesson for all young athletes striving for gridiron glory. And one that should have been learned by now.
He signed a 4-year $8.25 million contract with $6.7 million guaranteed just 2 years ago. He was also guaranteed to cash in on endorsements with the Johnny Football moniker. Would he have had a Hall of Fame career? Probably not. But when potential goes to waste you never know what it could have become.
Sure there have been “rock star” NFL Quarterbacks who have had success. Jim McMahon, Hall of Famers Joe Namath and Ken Stabler come to mind. But that was a different time. That was a league where you could hand the ball off to the running backs 40 times with vodka on your breath. It’s another thing when you have to throw the ball 40 times while guys twice your size and just as fast are trying to kill you.
Plenty of scouts and experts called this out before the draft. Yet the Cleveland Browns decided to roll the dice with their 22nd pick in 2014. Flashing a cockney smile and a “show me the money” sign as he walked up to Roger Goddell, Manziel was full of swagger like he already won something. But most Browns fans realized then that buying a Manziel jersey was a bad investment.
Is it arrogance? Entitlement? Does he really not have a mentor smarter than the people letting him provide TMZ his own celebrity train wreck fodder?
Where are his parents to smack him upside the head while he’s being stupid?
Recently his father came out in the Dallas Morning News saying “I truly believe if they can’t get him help, he won’t live to see his 24th birthday.”
Who’s ‘they’ you ask?
Good question because Manziel’s agent and franchise dumped the troubled youth. Sure trouble can make money. But when it starts costing money, all those people that built you up as the next best thing vanish as quickly as they leeched onto you.
But these weren’t lessons Johnny Football ever learned. When would a privileged kid who’s wanted for nothing while being heralded since 19 learn those things? Some people say Cleveland was the worst place for Manziel to start his career.
But consider this. The biggest star to come out of Ohio, LeBron James, owned Manziel’s marketing team. They were also the first to cut ties with him in January. Go figure.
Manziel had a direct channel to a guy who’d been labeled “King”, “The Chosen One”, and been recruited by NBA vultures since middle school.
The last time someone in pop culture was deemed “The Chosen One” he became a paraplegic left to die on a fiery mountainside and needed a breathing apparatus in a black helmet for the rest of his life. Now LeBron’s done a little better than that as one of the greatest basketball players ever while navigating the pitfalls of celebrity.
Johnny Football was never going to be one of the best quarterbacks ever. But more importantly if he had an IQ higher than the number of wins the Cleveland Browns have had over the past 12 years, he would have realized he had a successful blueprint and mentor in James to follow. Oops.
BTW, over the last 12 seasons, the Browns have won 61 games. An ‘average’ IQ rating is in the around 90.
How many times have you heard about LeBron’s domestic troubles, drunken escapades, or partying Twitter videos? I’m thinking TMZ wants that dirt. Instead we get Johnny Drunk claiming he’s playing NFL football next season in his latest candid, sidewalk interview.
While still in his early 20’s let’s not completely write off the kid turning his life around. But only Jonathan Manziel can do that. Not his folks or family, not his bonehead friends, TMZ or anyone else that has contact with him.
All he has to do is take a cue from the dozens of cautionary tales that came before him, instead of becoming one himself.