Recently, at a hearing in front of a Dallas judge, former Cleveland Browns quarterback Johnny Manziel, who has been out of football for more than a year now, told the judge that "everything has been going extremely smoothly and my life is trending upward."
None of us are with Manziel on a daily basis, and we no longer had the perpetual window of his social media addiction to gaze at the train wreck, so we can only go by what we know factually. So along those lines, these things we know about Johnny Manziel — he has reconciled with his agent (Erik Burkhardt), he is engaged and he appears to be sober, for the time being.
Add all of that up, and the return to the NFL that Manziel has openly longed for, especially recently, suddenly may be growing legs. Now, add in this tweet from Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network on Thursday morning:
Sources: #Saints coach Sean Payton & Johnny Manziel were spotted together Super Bowl week, at breakfast. They discussed a return to football— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) March 23, 2017
This would seem to be a significant development, if there is any substance to the meeting between the two being a career-related meeting for Manziel. My thoughts on this go as follows:
1. The plusses from a football standpoint of Manziel being a New Orleans Saint are pretty plentiful. First and foremost, with Drew Brees there, Manziel would be a clear backup with no chance of starting. I think a big part of his failure in Cleveland was in his inability to internalize the role of the backup. He always thought he should be starting. Unless he is delusional, he should know his role with Brees there. Additionally, he would be observing and following a pro like Brees on a daily basis, which can only be good. Finally, Saints head coach Sean Payton has one of the more creative offensive minds, for if/when Manziel finally gets a shot someday.
2. The big minus is the fact that Johnny Manziel in New Orleans would seem to be a powder keg of debauchery, ready to explode at any point. They say that folks with addiction issues should avoid places with trigger qualities. Well, one of Johnny's most high-profile screw-ups came in New Orleans, when an overnight bender in 2013 made him late for the Manning Passing Academy the next day. If Johnny plays in New Orleans, there's a better chance of him snorting blow at a party than there is of him becoming the starting QB for the Saints.
3. That said...hey, Johnny got up in time for a breakfast meeting with somebody! That's something, right? (Unless they ate breakfast at Whataburger at like one in the morning. That does not count as a "breakfast meeting.")
4. Manziel remains a possibility to be suspended under the personal conduct policy, if and when he returns. This is less of an issue, obviously, if a team is keeping him as part of a three-man depth chart, as opposed to anointing him a starter.
5. As bad as it feels Johnny Manziel was at playing quarterback in the NFL, his career passer rating is 74.4, which is two points better than Brock Osweiler was in 2016 for the Texans. So how bad was Brock last season? He was worse than your average Johnny Manziel NFL start. But keep blaming the system, Brock apologists.
Indeed, on the one hand, you could generalize and say, "Look at Johnny Manziel! Settling down and getting married, while coming close to landing an NFL job." That sentence FEELS good.
And then you realize that Johnny is marrying an Instagram model, and might be playing in New Orleans, and you realize this whole Manziel experiment could still blow sky-high.
Listen to Sean Pendergast on SportsRadio 610 from 2 to 6 p.m. weekdays. Also, follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/SeanTPendergast and like him on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/SeanTPendergast.
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