Tuesday, February 2, 2016

News and views

News: The Browns will release Johnny Manziel in early March, according to numerous reports.

Views: First of all, the club didn’t actually say in a statement released Tuesday that it would release the troubled quarterback. But the wording of the statement strongly suggests Manziel will be an ex-Brown by the open of the National Football League’s year on March 9.

“We’ve been clear about expectations for our players on and off the field,” wrote Sashi Brown, the club’s executive vice president/football operations. “Johnny’s continual involvement in incidents that run counter to those expectations undermines the hard work of his teammates and the reputation of our organization.

“His status with our team will be addressed when permitted by league rules. We will have no further comment at this time.”

Undermining the team’s reputation? Are those in the Ivory Tower walking around with blinders on? The Browns on the field have done a superb job of building a sad reputation all by themselves. Manziel just added to it.

For reasons involving a salary cap hit, the Browns will wait to jettison the two-year quarterback March 9 rather than the waiver-wire opening next Monday.

So what took the Browns so long to pull the plug? Good question. Better question: Why now?

First things first. What took so long? That should be the first question Brown is asked at the news conference – assuming there is one – announcing Manziel’s departure.

Manziel did everything but brandish daily a huge sign that read ‘TRADE ME!!” after it became more than obvious he wanted no part of the Cleveland Browns, the city of Cleveland or the team’s fans.

The human ticking time bomb dropped all sorts of hints with his constant misbehavior, but the club chose instead to take a more nurturing approach. Yeah, the Browns dropped him to the third team for a couple of games this past season in hopes of straightening him out. Tough love? Hardly.

What those who run the Browns didn’t realize, as least until now, is that Manziel either refuses to be straightened out or doesn’t realize that’s what needs to happen. He is a lost cause. The club’s three-strikes-and-you’re-out warning evolved into four, five and more.

So why drop loaded hints now? Why not wait until March 9? Why go public with such a blatant read-between-the-lines statement? There is no other public relations advantage of saying something now other than to try and lead SportsCenter during Super Bowl week.

If that was the case, it worked. With the Carolina Panthers and Denver Broncos the focal point this week on all major sports networks, the Browns commanded the lead story hours after releasing the Manziel statement. That’s nothing about which to gloat.

Manziel is still a lightning rod when it comes to making news, no matter how negative it turns out. No doubt he will always be that way no matter where he winds up in the NFL, if he winds up anywhere at all.

That’s the baggage he will always lug around. It will follow him from city to city, from team to team. He very easily could wind up a pro football vagabond. It is obviously the path he prefers. The best part about that is it will be toted elsewhere.

Some day, when Manziel disappears from the sports world spotlight, some enterprising writer will have the perfect vehicle for a book entitled “Johnny Manziel, The Sad Story of a Troubled Quarterback.”

It is writing itself now.


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