This past weekend, a water-bottle-throwing incident involving embattled Cleveland Browns quarterback Johnny Manziel occurred at the Byron Nelson Golf Classic in Irving, Texas. The incident has added more fuel to the fire of the growing anti-Manziel movement that is engulfing the city of Cleveland. Despite ESPN’s report that fan support for Manziel is still high, Manziel’s list of detractors is growing by the day.
Though head coach Mike Pettine defended his second-year quarterback, for many Browns’ fans it is becoming more and more difficult to remember just what it was about Manziel that the Browns (and some would say more specifically owner Jimmy Haslem) found appealing enough to trade up and make him the 22nd overall selection in the 2014 NFL Draft.
“I think under the right set of circumstances, everybody standing here could get to the point that they would do something along those lines. Again, I don’t see it as a story.” – Mike Pettine, Browns head coach
Anyone wanting to get an extensive list of the events during Manziel’s career that helped shape his gallivanting, partying and immature image need just do a quick Internet search. We’re going to talk about what it is that made the Browns brass look past those potential character issues and roll the dice on the man they call Johnny Football.
Remember 2012? Manziel shocked the No. 1 ranked Alabama Crimson Tide in Tuscaloosa, became the first freshman to pass for 3,000 yards and run for 1,000 yards in a single season, won the Davey O’Brien Award (best quarterback), became the first freshman to ever win the Heisman Trophy, and capped it all off with a 41-13 drumming of Oklahoma in the Cotton Bowl.
While 2013 was not the Heisman-caliber season that Manziel had put together in 2012, he still set a Texas A&M single-game record for passing yards in his rematch with Alabama, throwing for 464 yards and five touchdowns in a close loss to the Crimson Tide. Overall, Manziel threw for 37 touchdowns and rushed for another nine scores in his final season with the Aggies.
During his college career, Manziel showed exceptional duel threat capabilities as he rushed for 30 touchdowns, threw for 63 more, all while only throwing 22 interceptions. He consistently torched SEC defenses, showed elite-level vision on the field, above-average to good arm strength, and an unmatched ability to improvise on the fly.
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Manziel has battled demons, poor decisions and immaturity. Despite this, anyone who has spent time with him has always gushed over his high intelligence, including his high football IQ. Making the conscious decision that his demons had gotten to best of him, Manziel voluntarily checked himself into rehab for 10 weeks during the past off-season; additionally, his teammates have done nothing but gush about his new-found work ethic in the Browns facilities.
Manziel became aware of his problems and, in doing so, took action to give himself a fighting chance at life in the NFL. At this point, he at least deserves a chance to succeed or fail before judgment is cast upon him and his career.
The bottom line is that Manziel is in the driver’s seat when it comes to his career. He has the raw talent, and if his teammates are to be believed, a new-found dedication to the game. The only question right now is if it is all enough to propel Manziel to the helm of the Cleveland Browns, and a successful NFL career? At this point, only time will tell.
Can Johnny Manziel take his mental and physical game to the next level and become the starter for the Cleveland Browns?