Four years ago, as Johnny Manziel entered the draft, he created a distinct “all about football” vibe, shunning all media requests as he focused on preparing for life in the NFL. Then, after he was drafted, he was all about everything but football.
Now, as he tries to get back into the NFL, Manziel has embraced the media, making himself available and visible as he apparently hopes that, by being around long enough and often enough, someone will finally decide to give him his next (last) shot in the NFL. The media gladly is embracing Manziel, too. Even though he’s a guy who hasn’t been on an NFL roster (not even the 90-man offseason version) in more than two full years, the media can’t get enough of him.
Most recently, Manziel appeared on ESPN with Scott Van Pelt, sharing the story of how Manziel’s life finally turned around.
“I got so low to the point where I questioned what I was doing and if my life was probably really worth living to a point anymore and got really down and really had to sit and reflect and look on what I was doing every day,” Manziel said. “My mom came to me one day and asked me — she didn’t really ask, she was just in tears — ‘What are you doing with your life? Why do I have to go around and get this secondhand of words and conversations of the negative things you’re doing around the world that’s coming back to me?’ And I saw how bad that it broke her heart, and it sucked. And it really hit home.”
We all love a story of redemption, and maybe that’s why the media continues to provide the platform to a player no one in the NFL seems to actually want. The media collectively knows that having Manziel in the NFL is good for the media’s business, as the hero-turned-antihero-turned-hero tries to turn his football career into something more than it ever was.
The question remains whether any NFL team will ever trust him again. He duped the Browns in 2014, and he duped them again in 2015. While substance abuse and/or alcohol use caused his career to go off the rails, his wing-it work ethic also contributed to his on-field failures.
Who, given his history, would make Manziel a starting quarterback? Who would even put him on a depth chart? Whatever help he could provide in practice (at this point who knows?) would be offset by the intense spotlight that, four years after avoiding it, he now fully embraces.
His next chance to get someone to take a chance on him comes in nine days, when he makes his on-field debut in the Spring League. If that doesn’t work, the CFL provides his next chance to secure his NFL last chance. If/when he shows that he can perform at a high level, maybe someone will decide to roll the dice.
But it won’t be easy — especially since anyone who signs him necessarily will be welcoming not only the possibility of another Manziel meltdown but also the non-stop attention and scrutiny that goes along with it.
That said, the redemption angle carries plenty of weight. Which is ultimately why this article was written. And which is ultimately why you’ve read it.