Leave Johnny Manziel Alone
I hope everyone enjoyed their Thanksgiving. This holiday was easily one of the most memorable for me, as I got to spend it with some of my best friends and family. The holiday only became sweeter, like my sister’s homemade cherry pie, when my beloved Chicago Bears upset the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau on the night they retired Brett Favre’s number. I will admit, though, that easily one of the biggest highlights of the night was to see Bart Starr on the field, considering all the health issues he’s had lately. I may be a die-hard Bear fan but that moment with Starr and Favre was an amazing moment. Someone who probably didn’t have a good holiday is Cleveland Browns quarterback Johnny Manziel.
(Photo Credit: AP)
I imagine by now most of you know that Manziel has been demoted from starter to third string with the recent release of a video showing him partying. While I can easily understand why the Browns organization would be upset with videos of their starting quarterback partying, the fact remains that the Browns shouldn’t care, because Cleveland, when was the last time you had a quarterback with this much talent? Every quarterback they draft only gets drafted because either he’s the best overall player, but the Browns don’t know how to use him. Or they draft whoever is left, only to try to give their fans a reason to actually show up to their games every Sunday.
Its been no secret that Manziel does need to work on his maturity, but the bottom line is when you’re an organization that has been desperate for wins for so many seasons, it’s your job to find all the ways to make sure that your team has an opportunity to win games. That means having the best players possible on the field. This is a franchise known for having one of the greatest players of all time in Jim Brown, but they’re also known for one of the greatest losses in all of football back when they lost to John Elway’s Broncos in the final minutes, giving up what would become known as “The Drive.” Denver went 98 yards for the win in the 1987 AFC championship game. The Browns organization clearly has more things to worry about than what their quarterback does… especially on the bye week.
Since 1999, the Cleveland Browns have started twenty-two different quarterbacks in the regular season. Now, while many of them didn’t play well, many of them were seen as the person who would save Cleveland, the one who would be their hero how LeBron James is to the Cavs (even though he left… and then came back). Despite the scoreboard of some of their games, Manziel has played to the best of his ability when he was asked to. While Manziel might not be a franchise quarterback…yet, the fact remains that every top quarterback has talent around him that makes him better; Aaron Rodgers has Randall Cobb, Tom Brady has Gronkowski, and Ben Roethlisberger has Antonio Brown. The top receiver for the Browns right now just based on stats is Travis Benjamin, who has 736 yards receiving, only 112 yards shy of Bengals superstar A.J. Green. Manziel has a quarterback rating of 88.4, not far behind from potential NFL MVP Cam Newton. However, Manziel is beating the likes of Bridgewater, Winston, Bortles, and even elite quarterbacks Luck and Flacco before they were injured in quarterback ratings.
What may worry some is that earlier this year Manziel admitted himself into a rehab facility for two months, but while many speculated it was alcohol abuse, the real reason he was there has actually never been revealed. Once he left rehab, Manziel received high praise from his teammates, most noticeably team captain Joe Thomas, about how his attitude and work ethic had drastically changed for the better. Also, not long ago Manizel and his girlfriend were pulled over due to people saying they were fighting in their car after they had been drinking, but no charges were filed despite reports of potential domestic abuse. The problem with the Browns is that they are demoting the best quarterback on the roster for a video where he’s singing along with a popular rap song while holding a bottle of champagne.
While I understand the punishment if he lied to his coaches, the fact remains that the NFL dealt with domestic abuse in a mild manner. It’s honestly downright pathetic that the Browns are suspending him just based on a video of him partying. He didn’t break any laws–he’s 21, after all–and there are probably countless other photos and videos of other players doing the same thing. We live in a country where you are innocent until proven guilty in the court of law. Not long ago Cowboys defensive end Greg Hardy was found guilty for assault on his then girlfriend to which he served his punishment. Hardy’s attitude with fans, other teams, and even his own teammates is now in question, but because he is a good player he hasn’t seen any punishment other than Jerry Jones giving him a good ole fashioned pep talk. Yet, a guy like Manziel is getting punished for doing what he has the right to do in his free time. Please explain to me how that makes any sense?
Many of you might say that Manziel deserves it because of his past party antics, but other than maybe underage drinking, has Johnny Manziel actually done anything wrong outside of drinking? The Browns only did this because of peer pressure from the NFL and sponsors because it will look good if they give him a “timeout.” But the NFL will allow their Super Bowl champions to celebrate with champagne, spraying themselves and others on the biggest broadcast of the year.
It is time to leave Johnny Manziel alone. There’s a reason the former SEC winning Heisman trophy winner was drafted in the first round, but like every quarterback, he needs talent around him to make him even better. Now, while I may agree that not many people want to play in Cleveland (no offense to anyone in Ohio), the fact remains that if the organization actually sticks with Manziel it could lead to something that the Dawg Pound has been dying to see for years now…wins.