On Tuesday, the Cleveland Browns took the necessary step to strip Johnny Manziel of the starting QB role he was given the week before the bye week. During said bye week, Manziel three months after a 10 week spell in alcohol rehabilitation was seen at a club in Austin, Texas dancing with a DJ and clutching a champagne bottle.
The Browns took the step to reinstate Josh McCown as the starter for the Browns versus Baltimore on Monday night. While this can be considered another chapter in the hyperbolic life of Johnny Football, it should be the last episode of his time in Cleveland.
Cleveland should cut their losses and cut him from their franchise at the end of the season. Manziel needs to find his place somewhere else in the NFL, learn the craft and also become a better person off the field.
In a lot of the analysis I have witnessed, one statement stands out. No other sporting role in modern day America requires a greater level of professionalism than that of NFL QB as leader both on and off the field.
Antonio Pierce stated that the locker room believes in Eli Manning due to the way he carried himself off the field. Scott Van Pelt was interviewing Cam Newton on his show, live from a Thanksgiving Jam that Newton’s Foundation was hosting. This is a free meal paid for by Newton for the community of Carolina, on a Monday night three days from their next game on the road at Dallas. What character to still host an event such as that during a short week. In the interview, Newton stated that the reason for Carolina’s 10-0 start was a healthy locker room in mind and body.
An interesting comparison to Johnny Manziel is that of Brock Osweilier who started his first NFL game at Chicago on his 26th birthday. Think about that, your first NFL start on the road on your birthday replacing an injured legend in Peyton Manning.
Osweilier did well, he had no turnovers and showed flashes of a good arm especially the TD pass to Cody Latimer that proved the winning pass. But it was his presence and composure that helped the team, Osweilier is 6’ 8” a specimen and an archetype of confidence. Also his post game interview showed a level of maturity beyond his years, helped by his three years sitting behind Peyton and learning how to not just be a sportsman but representative of the team and the league. The first thing Osweilier did was shake hands with the referee on Sunday, make friends on the way up as they will remember you on the way down.
That sort of maturation period is what Manziel required when he entered the NFL, he needed to hold a clipboard, wear a headset and learn. Manziel is small in size, nearly a foot shorter than Osweilier and whilst small QBs can succeed such as Drew Brees and Russell Wilson, those two have arm strength and good mechanics. Manziel made his name by improvising plays and extending plays when he could not find receivers; last year I wrote how I felt him sitting behind Brian Hoyer would not be such a bad thing, because Hoyer sat behind Tom Brady and this thing trickles down surely.
Manziel will still have a place in the NFL but he needs to know his place in the pecking order, he is a relief pitcher, a corner specialist in hockey. Manziel is someone you turn to in case you need something magical to happen, just do not expect the magic to always be there.