I'm not breaking any news here by telling you that Johnny Manziel appears to be on the slow train to Nowheres-ville, USA. If you're wondering where exactly Nowheres-ville is, it's right around where all the money and adulation run out, and the discard of an NFL career is totally complete. It's right near Rock Bottom, and it meanders through towns like Las Vegas, South Beach, Hollywood and more Las Vegas.
By the way, if you're looking for an excellent read on the anatomy of a collapse (no, not the Northern Iowa-A&M game...that anatomy is right here), I highly recommend Emily Kaplan's piece on SI.com in which she spoke with numerous people near Manziel and essentially reconstructed his personal timeline going back to the summer of 2012 before he took over as the starter (and eventual Heisman winner) at Texas A&M.
Among the things we learned in that piece:
1. The story about Manziel flying to Vegas just days before the Browns' season finale, the trip where he reportedly wore a blond wig and a mustache and went by the name of "Billy"? Yeah, that REALLY happened. I mean, I know there hadn't been any denials of that story, but still, when you read a piece like this and it's in there as a matter of fact, it's very funny (and slightly disturbing) to read. I want to know about this wig — did Manziel borrow it? Did he go out and buy it? Did he try on multiple wigs before settling on the blond one, and just how much did he look like Ric Flair? I need to know these things.
2. His high school offensive coordinator, 55-year-old Julius Scott, had basically vacated his job back in Texas to move in with Manziel in Cleveland and help keep the QB on the straight and narrow. However, by the early part of the regular season, Johnny found him to be "overbearing," and Scott went back to Texas. That was when Manziel's girlfriend Colleen Crowley moved in with him, and you can take it from there.
3. Least believable part of the piece — that Manziel's teammates in Cleveland think he's a swell guy:
Manziel was often detached at practice. On an especially cool afternoon, he remarked: “I bet it’s nice in Dallas right now.” That irked many in the organization, including some teammates, though he was never unpopular in the locker room. Far from it. Many players seemed to gravitate towards Manziel because he was charming and cool. Manziel is loyal, picking up the tab anytime a friend visited Cleveland, buying friends Rolex watches “just because” or taking time to engage in conversation with a teammate’s or coach’s kids who were fans. If he didn’t like someone, he let it be known.
“That’s the thing most people don’t understand about Johnny,” a Browns source says. “His teammates all love him, and stand up for him.”
Unless he's buying Porsches for everybody, I'm not buying it.
4. No shock here — football was easy for Johnny at A&M:
A popular story in College Station is of an informal summer practice after his Heisman season. The summer was a whirlwind of meet-and-greets and rubbing shoulders with A-listers for Manziel, who arrived to a session late. The moment he got there, he was mobbed by teammates who were excited to see him. Manziel jumped right into the 7 v. 7 drill, in the jeans he was wearing when he arrived, and led his team on a touchdown drive.
5. In a fork in the road where one decision was literally the gateway to tens of millions of dollars in future donations, A&M decided not to put Manziel on disciplinary probation in 2012 and instead reinstated him on the football team:
But five weeks later, Manziel heard from the school’s disciplinary board; he had been placed on “conduct probation,” which would include a ban from intercollegiate athletics from a semester (in this case, the 2012 football season). According to a source, Manziel was livid. Much as how he felt in the wake of that Titans victory three years later, he felt he had done everything asked of him.
As Manziel appealed the suspension, he began looking into junior colleges; if Texas A&M wouldn’t let him play, he would transfer. Sumlin wrote a letter to school officials vouching that Manziel had already faced punishment. On Aug. 14, the dean of student life overturned Manziel’s suspension. On Aug. 15, he was named Texas A&M’s starting quarterback.
Okay, so fast-forward to this past weekend. On the heels of his being released by the Browns (and passing through waivers untouched) on March 11, it appears as though the seemingly interminable Johnny Tour 2016 has led back to Miami. In fact, there's even footage of Manziel actually throwing a football!
Courtesy of TMZ and filmed by something called an OVO Ryan, here is Manziel tossing a ball with a sidearm delivery that only Matthew Stafford could love:
It would appear that part of the trip back to Miami might have been to conduct business that, at least on the surface, appears to be related to getting back into football. According to the NFL's Players Association website and as confirmed by ESPN, Manziel has signed up Drew Rosenhaus as his new agent. Rosenhaus, who is based out of Miami, replaces Erik Burkhardt, who a few months ago cut Manziel loose from his list of clients.
At that time, Burkhardt issued the following statement:
"It has become painfully obvious that [Manziel's] future rests solely in his own hands. His family and I have gone to great lengths to outline the steps we feel he must take to get his life in order. Accountability is the foundation of any relationship, and without it, the function of my work is counterproductive."
Rosenhaus, for his part, is no stranger to clients with issues, having handled the careers at one time or another of, among many others, Terrell Owens and Warren Sapp. Manziel's issues, depending on what happens with the law, could have him awaiting a suspension, if and when he returns to the NFL.
On February 25, Dallas police referred a domestic violence case against Manziel to a grand jury. Crowley, now his ex-girlfriend, accused Manziel of striking her in the head during a night out on January 30. The NFL is conducting a separate investigation, which could also result in a suspension. Manziel was cleared by the league in October following a similar incident with Crowley along the side of a road in Avon, Ohio.
Rosenhaus, who claims that the movie Jerry Maguire was based on his career (he and Leigh Sternberg seem to joust regularly over this), will have his work cut out for him finding a home for Manziel in the NFL. The Dallas Cowboys have reportedly said they are not interested.
And if the Cowboys think you're a discipline issue, then it's truly time to re-evaluate things.
Listen to Sean Pendergast on SportsRadio 610 from 2 to 7 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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