RIP Johnny Football?
So Johnny Football is gone. Dead and buried. Never to be heard from again.
So, too, is the money sign. You know that stupid little thing when Johnny Football – oops, sorry – make that Johnny Manziel rubs the thumb on his hands together with his index and middle fingers after a touchdown he produces.
Gone. Dead and buried. Never to be seen again.
Why? Because that’s what Manziel declared the other day to the Cleveland media. And then, like most of what Manziel says or does these days, it went viral. The declaration went world wide.
Yep. The days of Johnny Football are now just a small slice of football history. Rest in peace.
Do you buy that?
Sure, Manziel confessed the image he established and then nurtured at Texas A&M proved a massive distraction once he entered the world of professional football. He said as much to the media.
“I feel bad about that today,” he said with a straight face. “I feel bad about that throughout the last months of my life really thinking back and seeing how much of my life outside of this field and outside of this locker room was documented.”
He further admitted he could not handle the persona that accompanied him to the National Football League. “It just overtook who I was as a person,” he said. “I think at times Johnny Football probably took over me a little bit, too, and I bought into that.”
Continuing his self-analysis, Manziel said, “I think I didn’t do my best to hush things down, push down the hype. I think at times I welcomed it with immaturity and just accepted that a little bit. And that’s my fault.”
It sure is easy to look back and second-guess your behavior and label it immature while issuing what amounts to a giant mea culpa.
It never occurred to Manziel that he was a sideshow as the 2014 season unfolded? It never occurred to him he was living under a microscope? And it never occurred to him he was a polarizing figure? Really?
It began with the “hurry up and draft me because I want to be there; I want to wreck this league together” text he sent then Browns quarterbacks coach Dowell Loggains on college draft night last year.
It then spiraled out of control from there and wound up with two awful performances as a starter when he replaced an ineffective Brian Hoyer toward the tail end of last season.
So it’s good to know Johnny Football and the money signs are gone from the Cleveland sports scene. (But the cynic in me says they will reappear somewhere down the line when Manziel eventually moves on to another NFL team.)
All it took was one season of reckless behavior as an NFL rookie to come to the conclusion that one year was all that was needed for Manziel to grow up. No more outside distractions. It’s all about football now.
“I just want to be a another player on this team who is in here trying to get better and just trying to be successful,” he said. “My focus is on football. It’s what I’m here to do. It’s what I love to do and that’s what I’m here to talk about.”
Referring to his 10-week stay this past spring at a rehab center in Pennsylvania for what was reportedly a drinking problem, he later added, ”I’m trying to close a chapter of my life and move forward and continue to build on things I’ve done throughout this offseason.”
All the right words uttered with an appearance of sincerity. But for some reason, they come off as disingenuous. Manziel has enjoyed the glory and the attention for too long to shut it off just like that.
We are being led to believe he will be just one of the guys from now on. No outside distractions. No nonsense. Just football.
So . . . do you buy the notion that the Browns quarterback who wears No. 2 this season is a changed young man?
I’ll cast the first vote: No.