Football star Johnny Manziel has had a rollercoaster ride of a career up to this point in his life. Manziel, current quarterback for the Cleveland Browns, has been involved with yet another off-the-field incident, and this time it was with his ex-girlfriend Colleen Crowley. Dallas Police have reported that Manziel allegedly hit Crowley, and this has led many experts to believe that the Browns and the new Head Coach Hue Jackson will be releasing Manziel at the start of the new NFL year on March 9.
This will mark the end of an era that many in Cleveland thought would be the turning point of their franchise and city. It is no secret that the Browns have been searching for the light since their reinstatement into the NFL in 1999, thus going through 24 different starting quarterbacks in the span of 16 years. Many thought that with the 22nd pick of the NFL draft in 2014, Manziel would finally bring the spark and energy that would get the team moving in the right direction. Coming out of Texas A&M, the hype around him was surreal. Being the youngest QB to win the Heisman, and making almost unbelievable plays scrambling around the pocket, any team that needed a QB had him on the top of their list.
If you go back even further, Johnny Manziel’s high school career was just as decorated as his college career. Graduating from Tivy High School, he threw 76 touchdowns to just 11 interceptions in his 3 seasons as starting quarterback. Ironically, Manziel won the starting QB spot after the senior QB threw a party and got caught.
With Manziel in Cleveland, it finally looked like the Browns had done something right. They had made moves in the draft to pick up Manziel and blue chip prospect, Justin Gilbert, from Oklahoma State. Their defense was one of the top in the NFL, they had Josh Gordon back from a suspension, and they had Brian Hoyer, an experienced quarterback who learned from the likes of Tom Brady, to manage the team while Manziel got used to the system. The Browns started off the season 7-4 and looked to make the playoffs for the first time since 2002.
It all started to go downhill from there when the Browns had to put up with Manziel’s antics, such as giving the finger to the Redskins bench in a pre-season game and being photographed while intoxicated in Las Vegas. He was then involved in an incident at his apartment at 3 AM when a drunken fan approached him for an autograph during the season. No charges were made in regards to that encounter.
After the season, Manziel checked into rehab in February. People speculated that it was due to alcohol, however, the reasons were not specified. Manziel then said he was retiring the money sign and focusing on football.
However, the following season did not go well for Manziel or for the Browns. They finished 3-13, and the off-field incidents continued. He was first flagged down by the police in Avon, Ohio after numerous people called the cops to report a speeding BMW. Manziel’s girlfriend at the time, Colleen Crowley, told police he hit her several times to prevent her from leaving the car.
This event then led to the incident earlier this year when Johnny Manziel did not attend the game against the Pittsburgh Steelers because of an apparent concussion. However, ESPN reported that he was in disguise in Las Vegas and was identifying under the name of Billy. All of this led up to the latest incident when Crowley said that Manziel forced her to go with him, smashed her phone, and fled after she pulled a knife on him. Crowley told police that she “feared for her life” and that Manziel threatened to “kill her and himself”.
Since that time, Manziel’s agent, Erik Burkhardt, has dropped him after discussions with his family. His father, Paul Manziel, has publicly stated that if the Browns do not help his son, “he won’t live to see his 24th birthday.” He also said that he tried to admit his son into a rehab
facility twice, but Manziel refused to stay. Paul also stated that he believes his son is suicidal, and he said he had tried before to get him admitted into a psychiatric hospital.
This is turning into one of the most tragic stories anyone has seen in the NFL’s existence. No one can predict what will happen next in the Manziel saga, but hopefully someone can get him help so that he may get his life back on track. One thing that is almost certain though is that his NFL playing days are most likely over. The only team that showed interest in Manziel before this off-season hit was the Dallas Cowboys owner, Jerry Jones, and even he is not brave enough to guide this hurricane right into Dallas.
Unfortunately for the Browns, this has circled right around them and the city of Cleveland. As if fans needed anything more to be upset about, the city has not even seen a sports championship since the Browns won the NFL Championship in 1964. Since then, they have seen nothing but heartbreak and have been the butt of all sports jokes. The Manziel era will just be another log on the very large dumpster fire that is Cleveland sports.
There was so much promise with the young quarterback, but unluckily for Manziel and for Cleveland, he just happened to peak in college.
-Blake Saathoff ’17, Junior Sports Editor