After two painful seasons, the Cleveland Browns finally cut Johnny Manziel. While the Browns hoped to receive some compensation (such as a late-round draft pick) for their former first rounder, not one team in the league — not even Jerry Jones’s Dallas Cowboys — was willing to take on the risk of acquiring Manziel in a trade. With Manziel now entering free agency, no team should give the self-destructive quarterback another chance until he is willing to reach out for help to address his personal issues.
Manziel’s popularity and media attention leading into the draft was astounding. Sure, the 2012 Heisman Award winner was impressive and fun to watch on the field at Texas A&M, but his propensity for chaos off the field made him an ineffective leader and unreliable teammate. Consequently, Manziel — once projected to be a top five pick, but taken 22nd overall — turned out to be one of the most polarizing personalities to enter the league in years.
Before the draft, former University of Oklahoma and Dallas Cowboys coach Barry Switzer — one of only three coaches to win both the Super Bowl and the college national championship — strongly discouraged NFL teams from gambling on Manziel.
“I don’t like his antics, I think he’s an arrogant little prick,” Switzer said. “I’ve said that and I’ll say it again. He’s a privileged kid. He’s embarrassed himself, he’s embarrassed his teammates, his program, he’s embarrassed his coaches.”
But fans of Manziel excused his behavior, mainly citing his youth. He was just a kid who needed to grow up a little. The Browns, often referred to as the team where quarterbacks go to die, decided to sign him.
The Browns supported Manziel for as long as they could. Fans became hopeful when he went through drug and alcohol treatment in 2015, but, denying he had a problem, Manziel quickly returned to his old ways.
His on-field performance did nothing to help his case. In six starts last season, Manziel threw only seven touchdowns with five picks and six lost fumbles. He did nothing on the field in Cleveland to demonstrate that he is capable of starting in the NFL.
The nail in the coffin for Manziel was his decision to refuse help from the team, his family or anyone else. His father, Paul Manziel, expressed concerns for his son’s life — not just his career — following Johnny’s violent altercation with his now ex-girlfriend Colleen Crowley in late January. Near Fort Worth, Texas, Manziel allegedly forced Crowley back into the passenger seat of her car and hit her several times; according to Crowley, Manziel inititated a similar incident in Avon Lake, Ohio in October.
“I truly believe if they can’t get him help, he won’t live to see his 24th birthday,” Paul Manziel said.
Despite his father’s insistence, Manziel refused rehab. Shortly thereafter, the Browns announced their intention to sever ties with the young quarterback. He is now awaiting the grand jury hearing for his domestic violence case with Crowley, killing time by popping bottles with models in Miami as if he hasn’t a care in the world.
In his current state, Manziel is unable to maintain his health and sanity, let alone manage his career. The prospect of any team attempting another reform effort is ludicrous — they should all learn from the Browns’ mistake, and, hopefully, Johnny will eventually reach out for help.
Dylan Bordonaro is a senior politics major. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.