Why Johnny Manziel still might have his shot at a return to the NFL
Johnny Manziel is essentially starting his football career all over again. While he may not be completely learning the game itself again, it is very difficult to pick something back up and be great at it right away.
After being released by the Cleveland Browns in 2016, Manziel vowed to return and play football again. However, after having several episodes with his ex-girlfriend Colleen Crowley before and after his release from the team, altercations at bars and other incidents of wrong doing, it never really seemed like Manziel would ever be able to return. Johnny Football was no more.
The ex-Aggie stated many times during this difficult time in his life that he would get sober and focus on his life and football. However, every time he would say something along those lines, another headline with Johnny’s name on it would pop up in the news.
This is what scared the Browns and every other NFL team away from him. A player who is always in the news is not good for a franchise, and frankly that’s not the way a franchise quarterback acts. The Browns thought that Johnny would be the one to break them out of their slump and to bring the Dawgpound to their former glory. From a football standpoint, there’s no question that Manziel may have been the guy that Cleveland needed him to be, but his personal life got in the way.
Fast forward to today, and it seems that the smoke has cleared. Manziel decided that he loved football more than alcohol, and he decided to get back on the right path. On July 18, 2016, Manziel tweeted an apology to Texas A&M fans for his behavior and vowed to get back to the way he used to be. Since that day, he has proven that he has truly begun to turn his life around, publicly speaking about his struggles with bipolar disorder, and going through rehab and anger management to try and better himself as a person.
This motion has clearly been showing, as Manziel has been able to get back on the football field, beginning with the Spring league in March of 2018. After showing that he could still throw the football at the Spring League and a couple of appearances at college pro days, he gained some interest, but none from the NFL. The league had had enough of him, so he took his talents and started his career as a Canadien Football player.
#ComebackSZN has begun.
The Rise and Fall of Johnny Football
Now, I know what you’re going to say…didn’t you just watch Manziel toss 4 interceptions in the FIRST HALF of his first CFL start??? Yes, I did see that atrocity, but that does not mean the end of his career.
You can watch the highlights of his lowlights here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=igmVV7ol4S8
Manziel has had plenty of pressure on his shoulders at every level of football that he has played, including the situation he is now in with the Montreal Alouettes. In high school, he was brought in to the varsity squad his freshman year as a wide receiver, and the next year he was the starting quarterback. As a young football player in the state of Texas there are many expectations to be great and win football games, and while Manziel was able to be successful in his 3 seasons as a starting quarterback, it never came easy.
With over 7,000 passing yards, 77 passing touchdowns and 76 rushing touchdowns, per maxpreps.com, Manziel earned a name for himself in the state of Texas and gained national attention. His lustrous high school career earned him a scholarship to Texas A&M, where he was one of the most popular college football players in the country. Already the best quarterback on the Aggies’ roster, Manziel once again started as a freshman, only this time on a national stage.
Yet, he did not succumb to the pressure. In fact, he thrived on that pressure, putting together one of the most impressive statistical seasons by a freshman ever. All of this whilst earning the nickname, “Johnny Football.” Manziel shocked the sports world with his incredible mobility and acrobatic plays that made the SportsCenter top ten highlights, and made him one of the most popular sports icons in the country.
After a season in which Manziel set an SEC record 4,600 yards of total offense and 47 total touchdowns (passing and rushing), he became the first freshman ever to win the Heisman trophy. He returned for his sophomore season a year later and was a Heisman candidate once again, but was beaten out by Florida State standout Jameis Winston.
His stellar collegiate career drew attention from NFL scouts, but his off-the-field antics drove teams away from him. After being dubbed a potential top-ten selection, Manziel fell all the way to pick #22, where the Browns made him their second pick of the draft. The pressure once again came down on Manziel…but he had never had the kind of pressure that is bestowed upon a Cleveland Browns quarterback before.
On the field, Manziel showed incredible potential. While he never had the statistics to back up his game in the NFL, he never really had a full season to settle in with the offense.
Of course, his erratic play style did not translate well in the league. Manziel had a tendency to dance around too much or extend the play too long, resulting in a botched play or a turnover. There is no questioning his ability to make someone miss or his mobility in the pocket, but his decision making needed work.
While his big personality withheld him from the opportunity to be great in the league, he still made strides as the starter for the Browns. Given the lack of talent that the Browns put around him, he held his own by improving as a passer every game. However, it was all for naught as Manziel never allowed himself to get acclimated and establish himself as a leader.
Rebuilding His Reputation
Now in the CFL, Manziel is attempting to resurrect his football career after making some big changes in his life. First with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats, he began his CFL career as a backup to Jeremiah Masoli, but never was able to overcome Masoli for the starting job. He was then traded to the Montreal Alouettes, for which he made his first start on Friday as a pro since December of 2015.
To say that his performance in this game was ugly would be an understatement. Manziel finished the game 11 of 20 for 104 yards, and I wish it would have stopped there. Four of his nine imcompletions were sent the other direction, and the Alouettes lost the game by a whopping 39 points. It is clear that he was trying to do way too much with the football, and rush himself back into being Johnny Football.
Nothing in life works that way. Manziel learned the hard way that it will not be an easy road back to the NFL, and this game in the CFL humbled him a bit. However, Johnny Football is Johnny Football, and the Heisman trophy winner is still inside of him somewhere. If he can just be patient and relearn what it takes to be a starting quarterback, whether that be in the NFL or not, his talent will come back to him. While he may never be the same player ever again, his experience with the Browns allowed him to visualize what his career could end up looking like. He can now use that knowledge as a veteran quarterback and apply it to his game in the CFL. It won’t be long before he finds success in Canada.
Manziel’s situation at this point in time is like being the starter on the high school varsity team as a freshman. He wants to prove that he belongs somewhere, and rush into being great. But if he just listens to his coaches, goes to practice and keeps out of trouble he will be just fine.
#ComebackSZN Still Possible
The pressure had never been higher on him than when he was on the Browns. As a young quarterback, let alone a young kid like Manziel, having the pressure on you as being the savior of a franchise is overwhelming. You want to be the guy that they expect you to be, and you want to deliver for the team that invested so much in you. Some people just break after being handed that much responsibility, and that’s exactly what happened with Johnny Football.
Taking things out on the people around you is the worst way to deal with a problem as a human being, and Johnny could not control himself, neither on nor off the field.
Representing the Browns, Manziel made many rash decisions that came with consequences, such as flipping off opposing players, throwing a water bottle at a fan, and getting in bar fights. The NFL had it’s hands tied with the Browns QB, fining him countless times, investigating him, and suspending him from play.
His personal life was the biggest cause for concern, especially in his affairs with Colleen Crowley. The ex-girlfriend of Manziel, Crowley was involved in multiple cases of domestic abuse with the Browns quarterback, ultimately placing a 2 year restraining order against him. It is no question that alcohol played a large part in these allegations, as it did in many cases with Manziel.
After years of rehab, counseling and focusing on his life, Manziel is finally ready to move on from his troubled past and get back to what he loves doing: football.
Right now, Manziel is a long ways away from being able to return to the NFL. Between his many mental issues, legal issues and tweaks in his game that need to be made, it is just too much to handle for a 25 year old all at once.
Johnny Football was once the most polarizing player in football. The youngest player to ever win the Heisman trophy at the time (now Lamar Jackson), Manziel earned his keep when he was on the football field. However, with the partying, the alcohol and legal trouble that he got himself into, he dug himself into a deep hole. The NFL is a business. It is vastly different from college football, as any kind of slip up will cost you your job and you will be out on the streets in no time.
As human beings, we make quite a few mistakes and have to learn from those mistakes to help us grow in our lives. Manziel did not treat the NFL like it was his job, rather he took it for granted with his actions and paid the price for it.
Manziel has learned from his mistakes and is ready to grow as a person as a result. The first step that he needed to take was to get the help that he needed in his personal life and it seems that he really did want to take that step,
Now that he has corrected his personal life and has set himself on the right path, he can now put all of his energy back into football. Just being himself on the field will help bring back his drive and help him remember why he loves the game so much.
He was not impressive in his first start with the Montreal Alouettes, but there is only going up from here on out.
#ComebackSZN has only just begun.