Cleveland Browns: Remembering the summer of Johnny Manziel

PITTSBURGH, PA - NOVEMBER 15: Johnny Manziel
PITTSBURGH, PA - NOVEMBER 15: Johnny Manziel /

A quarterback competition is nothing new for Cleveland Browns fans, and some are still likely reeling from the wild summer of Johnny Manziel in 2015.

It seems like the leather helmet era, but it was only two summers ago Berea was the center of the football universe. NFL Network breathlessly broadcasting every practice snap — live — even from minicamp.

All because of Johnny Manziel, the troubled soul once known as “Johnny Football”.

Today, it’s more likely another former Heisman Trophy winner and failed Browns QB Robert Griffin III gets another NFL gig before Johnny Manziel does — and RG3 has generated zero interest even from teams more desperate than the Browns. (Think 49ers and J-E-T-S whose 2017 fortunes rest with Brian Hoyer and Josh McCown, respectively.

A Google search for “Johnny Manziel” spits out topless romps with his fiancé and Mittyesque dreams of following fellow Heisman winner Tim Tebow to the baseball diamond. Type “football + Manziel” into the address bar and it returns a report on his recent paid appearance at a fantasy football convention.

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And that’s all great news, because given Manziel’s disease, he’s blessed to fantasizing about bikinis and baseball. In 2016 when Browns fans were fretting about his no-showing the season finale, Manziel’s father feared he “might not live to see his 24th birthday.”

But in July, 2015, Browns fans had high hopes. That was before Manziel flipped off Redskins fans in his preseason debut. Before he got into an elevator beef with a fan, before he tried to pretend Westlake was sober living. Before he dodged domestic violence charges for assaulting his former girlfriend.

So today as the “Kessler or Kizer or could it really be Osweiler?” question gets buried on national sports shows and the NFL spotlight has shifted far away from Berea,  Browns fans should keep a light on in their hearts for the man who quarterbacked the team to just two wins over two drama-filled seasons.

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Hopefully Manziel will follow that lighted path not back to the football or even baseball field but to the inner peace he’s yet to find.