Johnny Manziel has been a lightning rod ever since he burst onto the national scene at Texas A&M. From the moment he was drafted by the Cleveland Browns and made the rubbing dollar bills gesture that opposing players then mimicked whenever they sacked him, “Johnny Football” has been the object of attention and controversy.
Manziel cashed in on his notoriety, becoming the only backup player in the NFL to be featured in national TV commercials. He also became a complete pain in the ass to the Browns, missing meetings, hosting ill-timed parties, showing an utter lack of professionalism, and then stumbling in big games after being given the chance to play.
So when the Browns announced yesterday that Manziel checked into a treatment facility for unspecified reasons, and a family friend asked the public to respect his privacy, it was entirely predictable that Manziel would become the butt of bad jokes and cries of “Johnny Rehab” would be heard throughout the land. You can even argue that, with his constant publicity-seeking conduct, Manziel has brought that kind of harsh reaction on himself.
But anyone who knows someone who goes into a treatment facility to try to turn their life around and grapple with an issue — whether it be alcoholism, another form of substance abuse, or some other kind of addiction or personal problem — knows that it is no laughing matter. Manziel may have acted like a colossal jerk, and it looks like he will be the latest complete first-round bust that the Browns have selected, but he’s still a human being who obviously is struggling to grow up. After all, he’s only 22 years old.
I could care less, really, about the appalling attention whore called “Johnny Football,” but maybe there’s still hope for the person inside named Johnny Manziel. Good luck to him.