For everyone who's said that Johnny Manziel won't ever play football again, and has followed that up semi-jokingly with the hypothesis that he will "wind up on a reality TV show," in a perverse way, those predictions are coming true.
Manziel's life at this point is realer than anything a highly edited show on E! could produce, and through the dark magic of TMZ and social media, we're watching his personal destruction, the crumbling of an Aggie legend one brick at a time. Sometimes the next episode comes from the unlikeliest of places, and this time it was from the inept fingers of Manziel's attorney, Bob Hinton, who last week accidentally fired off a text meant for a fellow attorney to the Associated Press, and that news outlet shared the contents with the Manziel reality show "viewing audience."
The text was meant for the lead attorney in Manziel's case, Jim Darnell, and from that text and the subsequent conversations generated, we learned some harrowing details of where Johnny Manziel's life is right now. Here's what we've learned in the past few days:
1. Manziel's defense team is seeking a plea deal in his domestic assault case.
Upon news of the text leaking, Manziel's spokeswoman, Denise Michaels, reinforced that Manziel's legal team has never been of the mind that Manziel would plead guilty in the case in which Manziel allegedly hit his ex-girlfriend, Colleen Crowley, but Hinton clearly has some trepidation over a plea deal, given that it would likely be tied to Manziel's staying drug-free, a proposition that Darnell seems to think is doubtful given this sentence in his misfired text — "Heaven help us if one of the conditions is to pee in a bottle." Which brings us to...
2. Manziel's drug problems are as bad as or worse than what we've seen on TMZ.
Last Monday, Manziel was involved in a hit-and-run accident in Dallas. Reportedly, Tuesday afternoon, he purchased more than $1,000 worth of drug paraphernalia at a place called the Gas Pipe, that according to a "heads up" receipt emailed to Manziel's legal team. Hinton was understandably coy about the genesis of the receipt and what it may mean:
"I don't know if the receipt is legitimate or not," Hinton responded when asked about it by the AP. "I just know that it doesn't say Johnny's name on it anywhere that I can see. It's just that somebody in that store, I guess, circulated that to the other store managers and employees saying, 'Guess who was here today and spent this amount of money.' That's all I know."
Well, if the reaction of Manziel's father Paul is any indicator, it would seem logical that Manziel is making large purchases on drug apparatuses...
3. Manziel's family has kind of given up on him.
Shortly after Hinton's accidental text to the AP, ESPN's Rosina Anderson caught up with the elder Manziel, who seems to have thrown his hands up in the air on his son:
“He’s a druggie. It’s not a secret that he’s a druggie. I don’t know what to say other than my son is a druggie and he needs help. He just hasn’t seeked it yet. Hopefully he doesn’t die before he comes to his senses. That’s about all you can say. I don’t know what else to say…I hate to say it but I hope he goes to jail. I mean, that would be the best place for him. So we’ll see.”
4. Manziel's first rehab stint was clearly not his idea.
When Manziel went to rehab after his rookie year, many were skeptical that it would work. The mere math of rehab (most addicts take multiple trips before they are able to stabilize, if they're ever able to) was working against Manziel, let alone his enabling surroundings. As it turns out, that rehab stint appears to have been pushed by Manziel's father, who had this to say to Anderson:
"You have no idea. And the system failed," he said. "I had him in rehab and he escaped and the doctors let him go, and that is a whole other story. So I mean I had him [in rehab] and the system failed. It didn't work.
5. Manziel does not appear to be partying on his family's dime.
The one question a lot of us have had, as we've watched Manziel party his way lavishly across the United States and back, is "Where is he getting the money to do all of this?" I mean, sure, Manziel still has enough cachet as a Heisman winner to get some comps and perks, but private jets ain't free, and it seems like he has a new plaintiff coming after him every day for something. Point being, we all have wondered if Manziel's family was supporting him financially.
Well, not only does that not appear to be the case, but according to Paul Manziel, Johnny's rookie deal with the Browns (a fully guaranteed four-year, $7.7 million deal), along with whatever endorsement income he has left, makes up a resource pool that exceeds his parents' resources:
"He has more money than me, so he can outrun me. Like I said, there are two things that are going to happen: He's either going to die, or he's going to figure out that he needs help. It's one of the two. But we've done everything that we can do. Life goes on. You can't just chase somebody that's not willing to listen. The story is not going to change. It's the same."
Wow. If that's the case, Johnny may start hanging out with some REALLY shady characters before we know it, and this story may hit a wall sooner than we all thought it would. For his part, Paul Manziel gives perhaps the most poignant, most accurate and most frightening assessment of where this is all going for the man they called "Johnny Football."
"We're so far past what everybody thinks we are past. People are ignorant. It's just a horrible story. That's all there is to it. I mean, I hate to say it, but I hope he goes to jail. I mean, that would be the best place for him."
If the Manziel reality show maintains its ebb and flow, we should have a story later this week from one of his sycophants telling us how he's getting ready to play football in 2016 or 2017. That's kind of how it's gone.
The fact is that, if Manziel's attorneys' concerns are right, Manziel's father may get his wish eventually, either through a judgment on his domestic assault case or a failed drug test after a plea agreement — his wish that prison actually saves his son.
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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