Let me start this off by stating (not admitting, stating) that I have no interest in spectator sports, particularly the NFL. I could care less who wins the playoffs and goes to the Super Bowl and who wins it. None of it is going to make a fraction of a penny’s difference in the overall scheme of things. Everyone on the two teams gets a ring and the winner’s fans gets to brag about how their team won – until next year when that team goes on the skids.
Now, I had never heard of Johnny Manziel until a front page article came out about him in Texas Monthly. The article told how he had taken his Kerrville team from nothing to a championship team, then how he had gone to Texas A&M (after turning down an offer to a school in Oregon) and after being redshirted (whatever that means) won the Heisman Trophy the first year he played and was given the name Johnny Football. That fall I watched A&M games and was entertained by the young quarterback’s efforts on the football field. Personally, I wish he had stayed at A&M to graduate but he chose to declare for the NFL draft, which was his choice. Now, he should have been drafted by the Houston Texans, who have had quarterback problems for almost the past decade. Instead, they took a lineman named Jadevon Clowney, apparently because he played for Texan owner Bob McNair’s alma mater, the University of South Carolina, in spite of his dismal record the previous year. (Sports writer – who know very little – were pushing him to be the number one pick. He was, and he’s bombed in Houston.)
Manziel was picked by the Cleveland Browns but instead of playing him, they put local boy Brian Hoyer in the starter position and it wasn’t until Hoyer went bust that they finally played Manziel. Granted, he didn’t do well but it was the Browns defense who allowed the Cleveland Bengals to run away with them. Manziel was injured in his next game and sat out the rest of the season. Immediately after the season, Manziel checked himself into a treatment facility but no reason has ever been given for the decision he made himself. Bloggers and Manziel haters, of which there are many, concluded (without basis) that it was for drug and alcohol abuse when it could have been for anything, including depression caused from being stuck in Cleveland. Thee 2015 season was a repeat as the Browns brought in Josh McCown, who had done okay with the Chicago Bears then bombed in Florida. But then McCown got hurt in their first game and Manziel started against the Tennessee Titans – and promptly whomped them while showing that he is a much better quarterback than the highly touted Marcus Mariota. As the season progressed, the Browns won three games – two under Manziel – and lost 13, most of which were when other QBs were on the field. The Browns kept the Kansas City Chiefs to 17 points and scored 13 themselves while playing in Winter Storm Goliath.
Yet in spite of Manziel’s actions on the field, an army of “bloggers” went after him for “his conduct off the field.” TMZ, an internet celebrity gossip site, posted a short clip taken with a cell phone showing Manziel walking through a bar in Austin carrying what may have been a bottle of champagne and mouthing the words to a rap song. Now, it was a very short clip but Manziel haters immediately concluded that he was “inebriated”. Now, the clip was allegedly taken during a Browns bye week right after Manziel was named starting quarterback. Because gossip spreads quickly, the clip was shown all over “social media” by “ain’t it awful” bloggers and Twitterers. The Browns coach, who is no longer the Browns coach, overreacted and allegedly benched Manziel for the next game – which the Browns lost by a considerable margin. Manziel played the next game and ran all over Oakland. The next game was against the Chiefs, and although the odds were 83% in favor of the Chiefs, the Browns played a great game in high winds and possibly would have won if they hadn’t taken too long lining up for the last play and the clock ran out.
During those two weeks after Manziel returned the game, there was very little anti-Manziel on social media, but then another short video was posted showing him at a party on Christmas Eve in a private residence and all the ain’t-it-awful crap started again. This time the Browns paid little attention. They had one game left in the season and Browns management had other things to worry about, namely their jobs (which they lost.) A few days later, Manziel went to the Browns’ medical department complaining of a headache and was determined to have a concussion, a concussion suffered during the game with the Chiefs, which he finished and did a marvelous job.
Now, concussions have become a big deal in the NFL, which had established a protocol teams are supposed to follow. Now, this is not a treatment protocol, but a series of actions the team is required to take before the player is allowed to return to the practice field and, ultimately, to the game. Depending on the seriousness of the concussion, the protocol varies from a day or so to weeks. Manziel was at the medical facility on Saturday morning before the Browns’ final game. The media claims it was for “a treatment” but there’s no treatment for concussions other than initial rest than avoiding situations when another concussion might occur and taking pain killers for any headaches. The NFL protocol calls for limited gradually increasing activity until the player is pronounced fit.
On Saturday evening before the Browns’ final game, rumors started that Manziel had been seen in Las Vegas. Manziel himself posted a picture of himself with his dog showing that he was in Ohio. On Sunday USA Today’s web site posted an article claiming that he was in Vegas and referred to claims by a waitress and someone who claimed to have talked to him. The Browns have basically ignored it, although the owner said on Sunday evening (after the Browns lost to the Steelers) that Manziel “did not show up for treatment” Sunday morning. Since then, a story has been circulating that Manziel wore “a blonde wig and a mustache and used the name Billy.” Now, this story contradicts the original story which claimed that he was at Planet Hollywood with his girlfriend and using his real name. Either one is true and (more likely) the other isn’t or neither is true. One celebrity site posted a photograph that shows someone resembling Manziel at a table accompanied by four guys – no girlfriend, no blonde wig, no mustache.
Now, it really doesn’t matter whether Manziel was in Vegas on Saturday night or not. He had been restricted from playing in the Browns’ final game and was forbidden from even being present on the sidelines. There was no requirement for him to be at the game. In fact, players with concussions aren’t supposed to be in any kind of situation where they are exposed to excitement. Sunday was the last day of the Browns’ season and he would not be returning to the practice field, much less playing. A week had passed since he suffered the concussion. No one knows what the doctor told him on Saturday. All that’s known is that he didn’t appear at the medical facility on Sunday morning, according to Haslam. There are also reports that he wasn’t answering his phone and that “the Browns couldn’t find him.” Now, the question is, why would they have even been looking?
Manziel’s problem is not alcohol, it’s undue social media attention by bloggers who hate him and who jump on any opportunity to place blame on him, even though there’s nothing to blame him for. Social media is used by sports bloggers for their web sites – the “accounts” are all the same and never really say anything and then they are repeated on legitimate outlets. In fact, much of what passes for “news” in today’s world is actually rumor gleaned from Twitter, Instagram and Facebook. In nearly every case, the claims are exaggerated. They often refer to Manziel’s “brushes with the law” when in fact he’s only been arrested once in his life, and that was after he got into an altercation in College Station after someone called his buddy by a racial slur and he was found to have a fake ID. During the off-season before his final year, the attention was focused on Tweets he had made, including one in which he expressed how glad he would be to leave College Station after his car was towed. This was during the period when there were allegations that he had been paid to autograph football paraphernalia, allegations that were never proven and for which he was suspended for the first half of A&M’s opening game against the University of Houston. That, by the way, was the first college football game I ever watched. Within five minutes after Manziel got in the game, he scored. By the way, the U of H is one of the best college teams in the nation.
Because of who he is, Manziel draws attention from two kinds of people, those who hate him because of jealousy and those who hate him because of their own self-righteousness. So what that he likes to party? There have been all kinds of claims that he’s addicted to alcohol or drugs – or both – but the only proof ever offered are photographs and short video clips of him either in bars or at parties. Although hundreds of bloggers claim that he was treated for alcohol and drugs, there is no proof that he was. No one even knows for certain where he was treated, much less what for. His family gave a clue in 2013 when his father commented that he has anger issues, which is not uncommon with competitors. There’s no doubt that he was angry with the Browns offensive line because they let the clock run out on the Chief’s game. When the whistle blew, he threw his helmet on the ground and stormed off.
What I hate is that the “allegations” against Manziel are all based on rumor and unqualified photographs and short video clips. If he’s photographed in a bar or at a party, he’s automatically “inebriated.” A lot of people seem to believe that the Browns have prohibited him from alcohol. (There have been claims that the Browns told him to breakup with his girlfriend after an incident in October when she threw his wallet out the window of his automobile. Really? Since when has any employer been able to dictate who a person is romantically involved with? His girlfriend is actually a college student from Houston. Social media has labeled her a “party girl.”) Somebody found a post by one of her friends on Instagram (or somewhere) saying “Headed to Vegas” and used it to “substantiate” the claim that Manziel was in Vegas Saturday night.
Not only are bloggers speculating about where Manziel was on Saturday night, they’re claiming that the Browns are “through” with him and are going to dump him. However, right now the Browns doesn’t even have a management team. They have a general manager but he’s new to the job and is a lawyer, not from the NFL. Browns owner Jimmy Haslam told the media that it would be up to the new coach and general manager as to the makeup of the team. He did comment that he has input and also commented that the Browns will have second pick in the draft in May, which bloggers took to mean that he is planning to dump Manziel. If so, the question is why? It is because of rumors, innuendo, short video clips and photographs posted by wannabes? It’s certainly not because of how he plays. Personally, I hope Manziel does leave and comes back to Texas. The Cowboys seem to be looking at him. The Texans ought to be. In fact, they should have drafted him instead of Jadevon Clowney, who has been the bust that Manziel haters falsely claim he is. It’s like those who weren’t there calling Douglas MacArthur “Dugout Doug.” Neither label is deserved.