AKA "Johnny Football", American football ex-player.
The Manziel family has a storied and notorious history in Texas. Johnny's great grandfather, Bobby Jo Manziel was a bantamweight boxer from Lebanon who managed to find oil where others could not. He made money: a lot of money. And with money came privilege, and with privilege came some run ins with the law, entitled dilletante behavior, and so forth. So much so, in fact, that Johnny's parents took them out of their family seat as a child and away from where the oil-baron family had a ton of local legend and notoriety.
Born in 1992, Johnny Manziel excelled at several sports, a gifted natural athlete playing football, basketball, baseball, and golf. Because Texas, Manziel decided to concentrate on football as a quarterback, and achieved folk hero status as same. He racked up a host of awards in high school and some very impressive stats. Number one quarterback in Texas in his senior year. Senior Athlete of the year of the high school coaches' association nationwide. Texas' "Mr. Football". To those unfamiliar, football in Texas is huge. A high school in Dallas spent seventy million dollars building a pro-level stadium for its team. This was not just some kid up against some locals in pickup games after geography, this represented significant competition with high stakes.
As a result, Manziel was highly desired in college drafts. Originally wanting to go to Oregon, instead he signed with Texas A&M University, attending on a full scholarship.
Where he dazzled.
Given the moniker "Johnny Football" and near-legendary status, it was backed up with some pretty impressive stats and awards. He became the first freshman in history to win the coveted Heisman award, also breaking the single season record for production in terms of yardage beating out Cam Newton's impressive statistics prior. This was during his first year as a college player. The kid who'd been compared to Brett Favre and Drew Brees in high school was starting to make some noise.
Those worried abot a "sophomore slump" need not have worried. He broke a school record, scoring five touchdowns and almost 500 yards against #1 ranked Alabama. Though he dropped to #5 in the Heisman voting, it was nowhere near a slump.
Manziel decided to forego school and instead of attending his junior year, make himself available for the NFL draft. He was a very polarizing figure at the time. Some people noticed just how many awards the kid had racked up in his trophy case and couldn't wait to see him electrify the field - and others wryly noted that many of the antics he got away with that were so electrifying in college wouldn't work in the faster, stronger, bigger NFL. Some saw even greater potential in him than Cam Newton, and others pointed out that not all Heisman winners work out, just ask Tim Tebow. And they also pointed out that the stylin, profilin' Manziel who made a "money grubbing" motion with his hands and played to the crowds was an unteachable, uncoachable spoiled rich kid little punk with significant off-the-field problems and wanted nothing to do with him.
On the day of the actual draft, 21 teams passed on Manziel. He, however, took to his phone and texted the coaching stafff at the Cleveland Browns saying he wanted to "wreck the league" in Cleveland. They decided to take a chance on him.
For the record, Cleveland is where careers go to die. Cleveland is a perennial basement team who manage to get first round draft picks because of just how godawful they are, but that hasn't managed to improve their stock as a team in any meaningful way. Suffice it to say that if Manziel HAD come into the league and "wrecked it" it would have drastically altered the dynamics of the sport.
They brought him on board, and they hadn't even gotten out of the preseason before he was fined by the league - for flipping the bird during the Browns/Washington Redskins game. He finally made an apperance during a regular game in November of that year (2014) by replacing the ineffective starting quarterback mid-game. He scored his first NFL touchdown, though the Browns lost.
He made his first true NFL start on week 15 during their game against the Cincinnati Bengals. They lost 30-0, with Manziel throwing two interceptions. Overall, Manziel completed 18 of 35 passes for 176 yards and two
interceptions, and rushed nine times for 29 yards and one touchdown. His rating was abysmal and anonymous grumbling sources in Cleveland said the kid had no work ethic and his rookie season was 100% a joke.
Not an auspicious start to his career, and certainly not "wrecking the league".
His 2015 season was a better start. Though ruled out for the preseason with elbow pain, his level of play had improved. He filled in for the injured starter quarterback on Sept 13, and completed a 54 yard pass for a touchdown. However, he also turned the ball over three times - two fumbles and an interception - leading to the Browns losing that game. He was brought in as a starter the following week against the Tennesee Titans with their new quarterback, the Heisman trophy winner from 2014. They won, 28-14. He started twice more in that season, one in a 31-10 loss to the Bengals. His best game, statistically, was against the Pittsburgh Steelers where they lost 30-9.
It was enough for Cleveland to take the risk making him their starter from then on in, a decision that was rapidly reversed when videos surfaced of him partying in Texas on the bye week. The underage-drinking and fighting, autograph-signing for money antics that other coaches saw in him and shied away from him had finally started to really surface. As he was demoted to third string, he didn't see action again until they played the San Francisco 49ers in which he broke their seven game losing streak with a 24-10 victory. He sat out the last game with a concussion, but decided instead of following the team and checking in with the team physician as concussion protocol dictated, to go out drinking and partying in Las Vegas instead. The Cleveland Browns had seen and had enough, and released him from his contract.
No big deal, Manziel wanted to go to Dallas. He'd been a big shot in Texas both in high school and in college, and I guess part of him figured the combination of his previous fame and his connections and good ol' boy so on and so forth he'd be given another, redemptive shot with a worthwhile team.
He was wrong.
To add insult to injury on January of 2016 both his marketing agency and his agent dumped him as a client after he was involved in a drunken domestic violence incident with his now ex-girlfriend. It would be the first and only time his agent would ever "fire" a player. Nike also terminated their relationship with Manziel. Johnny Football it seemed had alcohol and substance abuse problems. He entered rehab in 2014 but it didn't stick - and him dragging his girlfriend into a car violently threatening to kill them both was a sure sign things had gone way, way south. His own father said: "He's a druggie. It's not a secret that he's a druggie. Hopefully, he
doesn't die before he comes to his senses. I mean, I hate to say it, but
I hope he goes to jail. I mean, that would be the best place for him.
I'm doing my job, and I'm going to move on. If I have to bury him, I'll
In 2017 Johnny Manziel floated the idea of a return to professional football, this time in Canada as part of the CFL, where American players who are no longer good enough or have significant personnel problems go to try and make a comeback and fail. Even then, the Hamilton Tiger-cats were on the fence about whether to take a chance on him, but they decided to sign him anyway. It's incredible that Johnny Manziel could find a way to actually take a career step backwards from playing for the Cleveland Browns, but he managed to find it.
Though the ink isn't completely dry yet on the Johnny Football story, as of right now it looks like game over and all she wrote. From initial great promise, hype and celebrity to drunken arrest, being considered persona non grata in his chosen sport and fall to obscurity - it's going to be written or filmed someday as a story about hubris and pride cometh before a fall.
Considering the spoiled brat rich kid narrative, there's a lot of people joyous at watching a man from a family that tried to bribe others to do their community service and flew their own breed of roosters to states where cockfighting is still legal on private jets fall so hard.
But then again, Manziel being a Texan considers himself a Christian, so maybe he can
make some money redeem himself as a rebranded evangelist, the same way Tim Tebow did. Only time will tell.