Johnny Manziel’s Work Ethic Questioned, Again
Near the end of the Cincinnati Bengals drubbing of the Cleveland Browns, Fox’s broadcaster John Lynch (former star safety) recalled a discussion he had with Johnny Manziel this week. As he talked about discussing the amount of work it takes to be a quarterback in the NFL, it became clear that Lynch had some concerns about Manziel’s preparation and work ethic. Lynch ended his recollection reporting that Manziel put in the needed work “This week” and emphasized those words.
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According to Lynch that is how Manziel characterized it as well. “This week.” The unspoken nature was that Manziel had not been putting in starting level effort and preparation all season long but started doing it this week after being named the starter. Not a good look for that to be recalled on national television.
This was a concern regarding Johnny Manziel when he came out of college. Mostly this was noted because of his enjoyment of the famous lifestyle that he is able to live. People were concerned by his constant partying in Las Vegas, showing up in other famous people’s Instagram and his presence at what seemed like ever big event. Many were concerned that Manziel wouldn’t put the time or effort it takes to be a starting level quarterback in the national football league.
His former teammates Jake Matthews and Mike Evans did their best to dispel those notions before the season started. Both noted Manziel as a hard worker who was all in to his craft all the time. Yet Manziel, when interviewed during Training Camp, stated that he wasn’t going to change how he spent his free time and that he didn’t believe it would impact how he performed on the field.
The concerns about his work ethic continue with veiled contempt comments by Peter King in his Monday Morning Quarterback article:
"Johnny Manziel and hope in Cleveland. All along, Manziel held out the prospect of the big surprise, the quarterback to ride in on the steed to save the franchise. Now everyone in Cleveland is thinking, “We should have listened to Merril Hoge.” The 30-0 loss to Cincinnati was deflating in so many ways, but if you didn’t see Mike Pettine’s postgame press conference, and you want to get really depressed, give it a look. It’s got to be on YouTube, or on the Browns’ website. Pettine was heartbroken, which I am sure mirrored the emotion of his city. It’s another wait-till-next-year situation in Cleveland, and a cautionary tale for Manziel: Get to work. Nothing is going to be handed to you. Become a student of the game. It’s too early to write Manziel off. (Really? One game is too soon?) He has some gifts. But they can only be developed through hard work."
While we bolded the last couple sentences for impact, it may not have needed it. King is saying that Manziel isn’t a student of the game, that he expects things to be handed to him and that he isn’t developing his skills through hard work.
Those are scathing comments towards a professional quarterback. Yet little from his play yesterday did anything to dissuade belief that this is true. Whether it is actually true or not is another question. We know the reports about Brian Hoyer are clear: He works hard, he is at the building when he doesn’t have to be and he gave everything he had to the game. He had to, his limited skills required that of him.
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Has Johnny Manziel ever had to? He is an extremely gifted athlete with a good/great arm. He could have succeeded both in high school and college based purely on talent alone. Often supremely talented people fall by the wayside to those who work hard. In his book “David and Goliath” Malcolm Gladwell notes that many of the Fortune 500 CEOs have had a history of dyslexia and other learning disabilities. Through having to work harder than others to succeed they out-gained many who didn’t have those limitations.
King is right that one game does not write off Manziel. While the NFL is a results oriented business, it clearly starts with the process of hard work and practice. There is growing concern that Manziel is not worried about the process of hard work. It may not be true but it is for him to address.
In a blue collar, hard working town like Cleveland we will accept no less than a hard working professional athlete. Hopefully Johnny Manziel can be that guy.
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What do you think of the reports about Johnny Manziel’s work ethic?