"With the 22nd pick, the Cleveland Browns select Johnny Manziel, quarterback from Texas A&M."
It's hard to believe that it was less than a year ago when Johnny Manziel heard his name called at the NFL Draft. At that time, he was barely removed from a three-month period where he became a social media hermit and (in retrospect) an "Eddie Haskell on steroids," focused on his workouts and saying all the right things. The future was bright; Johnny Football was movin' on up.
But almost literally from the moment the announcement left the mouth of Roger Goodell, it's been a reversion back to the college days of "JFF." I mean literally, as in Manziel walked out of the back making the money sign with his hands.
Well, the reversion back was a downward spiral, and when you head downward, eventually you hit rock bottom. Manziel landed in rehab after the season was over, and stayed there for ten weeks.
This week he got out, and Friday morning, he issued his first public statement since leaving the facility.
In the statement, he conveys an apologetic, contrite message with promises to try to redeem himself in the eyes of his family, the fans and his employer:
"I would like to thank my family, friends, the Browns organization, my teammates, and Browns fans everywhere, for your patience, understanding, and support during my stay at Caron. The doctors and staff have been amazing and what I've learned in the last couple of months has been tremendous. I owe private apologies to a lot of people that I disappointed but a very public one to the Browns organization and the fans that I let down. I take full responsibility for my actions and it's my intention to work very hard to regain everyone's trust and respect. I understand that will take time and will only happen through what I do and not what I say. I also understand there's a lot of curiosity about this but anyone who has a friend or family-member that's been through things like this knows it's an ongoing process. I'm going to continue to ask folks to try to respect my privacy as I determine to what degree I am comfortable talking about a subject which I consider very personal. Most of you have been considerate about that and I thank you for it. I look forward to seeing my teammates next week and focusing on football and my desire to be the best possible player, teammate, and man that I can be."
Workouts begin for the Browns, and most other teams, next week. To me, the most fascinating part of the Manziel journey this offseason will be watching him handle true football adversity again. It seems pretty clear that, to some extent, Manziel's off-the-field downward spiral was tied to his on-the-field implosion. Chicken and egg, I'm not sure which caused which, but when he went down, he went down hard in both aspects.
He's headed back to an employer that, depending on whom you believe, is closer to being finished with him than it is ready to hand the keys back to him. For what it's worth, ESPN.com's Chris Mortensen says he's heard that the Browns are "90 percent done with" Manziel, whatever the hell that means.
There also continue to be rumors that, not only are the Browns done with Manziel, but they're actively trying to move up in the draft to secure Oregon's Marcus Mariota as the next quarterback
that their franchise will completely ruin. (The body count is piling up.) Thanks to the Bills' Sammy Watkins fetish in 2014, the Browns have the 12th and the 19th pick (the Bills' pick) in the 2015 draft, so they have the equity to do a deal.
Getting through ten weeks in rehab is admirable. Injecting football back into the mix, football where you're fighting for your professional life, is a huge, potentially toxic variable for Manziel. I mean, if I were behind Josh McCown on the depth chart, I'd probably relapse. Just sayin'.
This time, Johnny truly is starting from the bottom. Somewhere, Drake nods his head.