The problems with Manziel’s comments about the Browns

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Earlier today, we posted an item based on a quote from Johnny Manziel that had been pushed to Twitter by Andrew Perloff of The Dan Patrick Show, during Dan’s interview of Manziel. Some took issue with this, claiming that the comments were “taken out of context,” twisted to support a predetermined narrative.

This is a claim that emerges from time to time in the sports world, a second cousin once removed of  the”fake news” shout, from those who prefer to ignore the words that came from someone’s mouth. Manziel’s words weren’t “taken out of context”; it was an isolated quote that has the same meaning in context as it has out of context.

The meaning, inescapably, is this: Manziel thinks that the Browns should have known that he wasn’t going to study film, that he wasn’t going to work hard, and that he was simply going to wing it. To understand the problems with these remarks, it’s important to consider the broader context that emerged in early 2014.

Manziel worked very hard before the 2014 draft to create the impression that he’s a hard worker. He specifically refrained from the Super Bowl-week car wash, during which he would have made tens of thousands of dollars promoting products at Radio Row, because he supposedly was fully focused on football. He routinely declined interviews prior to the draft for that same reason. His trip to the Nike facility in Oregon raised eyebrows because it represented a rare break from the full-football focus.

Four years later, Manziel essentially wants to adjust the “fool me once, shame on you” adage to “fool me once, shame on me.” He fooled the Browns, and now — in that one isolated but fully accurate portion of his interview — he blamed the Browns for getting fooled.

“If Cleveland did any of their homework they would have known I wasn’t a guy who came in every day and watched film,” Manziel said. “I wasn’t a guy who really knew the X’s and O’s of football.”

How is the phrase “if Cleveland did any of their homework” anything other than a slap at Cleveland for not figuring out that Manziel was lying to them? Does anyone think that Manziel, when meeting with the Browns (or anyone else) in the pre-draft process said, “I’m not a guy who came in every day and watched film” and “I’m not a guy who really knows the X’s and O’s of football”? He surely said the opposite, which definitely means he was saying what he needed to say in order to get drafted as high as possible.

The broader context of Manziel’s comments includes the contention that he had no one in Cleveland to help him understand what it takes to be a successful pro quarterback. First, why did he need someone to take him by the hand and show him that he needs to study film and work hard to master a playbook? Isn’t that fairly obvious? Second, through his agent and other contacts in and around the NFL, Manziel could have been (and supposedly was) doing everything he could from January until May to figure out what he needs to do in order to be successful in the NFL. Third, Manziel said later in the interview that, when Josh McCown joined the Browns in 2015, McCown showed Manziel how it’s done. So why did Manziel, who also had a new offensive coordinator in 2015, still flame out of the NFL after what was only his second season?

While most of the interview revealed a guy who now seems to be much more self-aware and mature than he ever was during his NFL career, any explanation for his failure in Cleveland other than “I chose partying over football” suggests that he truly hasn’t come to terms with why his career fell apart before it could get started. It’s not the Browns’ fault that things didn’t work out; it’s his fault. If he had chosen football over partying, he’d possibly still be the quarterback in Cleveland — and the Browns likely would have won many more than four games over the last three seasons combined.

I’m rooting for Manziel to stay sober, I’m rooting for him to tear up the Spring League, and I’m rooting for him to get back to the NFL. His success would provide a clear example of redemption and hope for millions of Americans struggling with addiction. Any effort, however, to put blame on anyone other than himself for everything that went wrong during his NFL career makes me wonder whether he truly has overcome these issues, and whether he’s truly ready to embark on a successful football career.

41 responses to “The problems with Manziel’s comments about the Browns

  1. Manziel can’t hide his true self. Every time he speaks, there are subtle and not so subtle phrases that spill out that should be monster red flags. Until he can put together say….a Canadian season or 2 under him where he adults successfully, no one should take a flyer on this guy.

  2. So, maybe scouts will stay away from questions like “do you like men ?” And ask real football questions like “ do you like to study football ?” or “how many hours do you study and breakdown football film ?”

  3. He hasn’t changed. He’s still lying because he’s broke and wants some NFL money. I doubt any team is interested in him at all after this. After all, he said the same things before the draft so what makes any team he’s only saying what teams want to hear now. If he bombs in the Spring League he’ll be lucky to even get a sniff from the NFL.

    As I am wont to say, from one of my favorite Motley Crue songs, “…don’t go away mad….just go away”.

  4. I moved to Canada 20 years ago and absorbed the local sport – the Edmonton Eskimos. Manziel /could/ make it here and walk among men that would worship him. The locals would love it (local as in if/when/where ever he landed). The problem I see, is that these guys play football to play football. The highest paid player in the CFL(happens to be a QB) is estimated at making $500k a year. The average wage is $80k. He said it today: He is lazy. Will he play ball cheap a few years to maybe make an NFL comeback? Also… weed is legal here July 1, 2018. Good luck sparking much motivation from a stoned lazy QB. Heh. Sparked.

  5. Seems like athletes that find sobriety and coming clean as liberating, but sometimes you should keep things to yourself. Why would another NFL team take a look at you if you admit to being a shady pro? Someone probably will because of talent, but this is just a lazy narrative on his part.

  6. He didn’t fool the Browns, he fooled Jimmy Hsalam, that pick was 100% on the owner and it cost people their jobs. I hope he’s stays sober and never plays another down in the NFL. Far too many other kids with similar talent who’ll put the work in are out there. And the addiction isn’t an excuse; addiction and work ethic aren’t mutually exclusive, being a spoiled, indulged brat, and work ethic are.

  7. The Browns may or may not have done the homework, but the homeless guy that told Haslam to take Manzielfor sure did not do any homework because he was drunk and/or high when he told Haslam to take Manziel

  8. The problem I have with his comments is they don’t make sense. All these teams test these players (QB especially) to see what they know X’s and O’s wise. All the players comment on it. I would be shocked if the Browns didn’t as well. The problem, as Ray Farmer said, was they were not prepared for Manziel mania and didn’t provide him with the structured environment he needed and quite frankly, they should have expected to have to. So if he wants to blame them for that, I would agree. They then realized he had trouble reading defenses and being able to go to the #2 and 3 WR in his progression. His coach was even impressed in one game where he was starting to. As someone else said, this was the owner’s pick and it cost people jobs. I follow the Browns and I could see his talent. I hope he stays sober and gets another shot and succeeds. I think he has been humbled and matured, so hopefully that will keep him on track. Plus he is married and we all know how wives can keep us men in line!

  9. The Browns were very dumb and Manziel was very lazy and immature and both sides knew that about the other before the Draft.

    I don’t see what the problem is with what he said.

  10. I’m pulling extra hard for this guy because it’s shocking to me to see how many haters there are out there that want to kick a guy while he’s down and make his addiction issues look like it shoulda been an easy fix. Addiction is the real deal and if you give a 22 year old kid fame and fortune AND he has substance abuse issues? Wow, it was going to blow up no matter how much film he studied.
    I just hope all the haters will let it go and pull for this kid. He wants it bad. Let’s give him a shot and see HOW bad.
    A team with a solid coach and a veteran locker room will help this kid a ton.

  11. whenwilliteverend says:
    April 4, 2018 at 7:13 pm
    He hasn’t changed. He’s still lying because he’s broke and wants some NFL money. I doubt any team is interested in him at all after this. After all, he said the same things before the draft so what makes any team he’s only saying what teams want to hear now. If he bombs in the Spring League he’ll be lucky to even get a sniff from the NFL.

    As I am wont to say, from one of my favorite Motley Crue songs, “…don’t go away mad….just go away”.


    He’s not broke and certainly doesn’t need money – he has plenty of oil money. He’s just a spoiled rich kid that never got taught how to work hard.

  12. I would like to see Manziel back in the NFL,but blaming the Browns for being fooled by his act, along with some of his other comments certainly will not help him to be taken seriously by any team. He has a long way to go. I hope he really is committed to sobriety and football.

  13. The guy has already had multiple chances. He is still selfish and childish since he wants to play the victim card. He does not deserve any more chances. Heck, he claims he is a “Christian” but obviously that is just another excuse for him to seek sympathy from the gullible.

  14. I think Johnny is absolutely correct. The guy who had years of past behaviour showing who he was, and got drafted simply because he told people he changed a few months before a draft where he could possibly make millions. If I walk into a bank with a credit score of 75 and they give me a million dollar loan and then I don’t pay them back, that’s on them.

  15. Face it. You screwed up. You trusted me. You knew I was a snake when you picked me up.

  16. His words are extremely revealing about himself, tell us what we all already knew, and are the last nails in the coffin of his not-to-be football career.

  17. I agree that the quote wasn’t taken out of context. Don’t forget that he texted the Browns on draft day asking them to, “come get him.”

    He routinely used the excuse that he was “just a kid,” “in my 20s,” and other lame excuses. The problem is that if you are conscious of things like that, then you can easily change them. They were excuses. He put partying ahead of football because he wanted to, and now he’s making another excuse.

  18. When it comes to anything Manziel, the base comments from more base commenters rears up like an addict for a taste. What he was saying to Dan Patrick is he needed help and guidance, he needed structure and discipline; these are things Cleveland never offered any of its QBs since 1999. Add to this bottom-of-the-barrel coaches and, the exception being Kyle Shannahan, a greasy gruel of know-nothings, Ray Farmer, and a business-oriented owner who’s intention was to make more millions on Manziel Mania rather than uplift a moribund football organization. Yes, I think Manziel was right. I loved watching Manziel play in Texas and I wanted him to succeed in Cleveland; I wanted to see that same electric streak and his lightening to strike from behind the Browns offensive line. But without the necessary discipline and Ray Farmer’s demand that Shannahan play Manziel long before his time, all helped Johnnie dig his hole of depravity deeper. I wish him the best of luck, now that he knows he can’t depend on anyone to right his ship, read a defense, or just say “no”.

  19. There’s some merit to what he’s saying. Johnny certainly deserves to shoulder most of the blame, but do NFL teams really think potential draftees aren’t being advised strategically by agents, lawyers, PR professionals, marketing specialists, and others to help them get drafted? Do the Cleveland Browns think every potential draftee is dead serious in everything he says? My guess is they don’t. (Even the Browns.)

    Johnny, here, is saying essentially this: “I did what I had to do throughout the draft process, and even though I chose partying over football, the Browns could’ve given me more help in making good on all the good impressions I made.” And this is totally fair. So as usual, the answer is somewhere in the middle—here, at an undetermined point between allocating 100% fault to Johnny and 100% fault to Cleveland.

    The true problem with what Johnny said is that it casts too much focus on Cleveland’s failures with him. Even though he’s probably right, the Browns’ failures surely pale in comparison to Johnny’s failures; after all, the guy skipped town and showed up literally disguised in Las Vegas to avoid his professional football responsibilities and keep the party going. What were the Browns supposed to do? Remind everyone on the team to make sure their first round quarterback doesn’t have wigs in his locker or car or apartment? COME ON! (Gob Bluth voice).

    To sum things up: Johnny is probably right to some degree, but he’s picking on an easy target in what seems to be his latest attempt at tricking someone into “not doing their homework on him.”

  20. …and of the course the Browns were in attendance at the USD throwing exhibition Manziel held March 22. But that’s just because the Browns and Browns fans are smart.

  21. Hey Florio caught this on an aggregate site. Great article so I wanted to throw the props your way. You’re exactly right – whether we want him to succeed or not the externalization of his problems isn’t a great first start. I’d like the guy to overcome his demons (I happen to think it is bigger than “just” addiction) but ultimately redemption and recovery comes with self-realization. His comments don’t show that.

  22. You’re still 100% incorrect here. You’re telling me that the nonsensical facade that Manziel put on tricked the Browns? Then they didn’t do their homework. In this quote he is also admitting his own fault – that he was lazy and that he did not grasp the x’s and o’s of the game b/c he never had to before. The fact Cleveland drafted him is a knock on them too – it was evident he didn’t know his x’s and o’s and if they had a decent organization they could have very easily broken through the surface level bs and understood this. Instead Mr. Haslam is quoted saying that he drafted Manziel b/c some homeless individual said the city “needed” Manziel. This is why the Browns are the Browns.

    I hated Manziel – he was self-centered and overly confident without a lot of reason to be. It was obvious he wasn’t going to make that transition very well given the context of his personality at the time and his inability to actually play the position (between the ears). He was not that talented, and frankly I don’t think had he worked harder he would still be in the league, b/c seriously he wasn’t very good. But I admire that he is owning his mistakes and has been transparent in his bid to make it back. I wish him nothing but the best moving forward.

  23. So, the browns believed in his ability to change and he rewards them by saying they should have known better. If that isn’t a warning to any prospective NFL team I don’t know what is.

  24. If there is already evidence once that he is willing to do the things necessary that he is a “hard worker” or “only focused on football”, what makes this time any different? He was candid before. He is just doing all this so he can get another contract to get him a little money in his pocket to support his next binge. I wouldn’t waste my time on this loser. Not to mention that I still don’t think he would ever be a good QB, even if he worked hard and was focused.

  25. The Browns were 6-3 and first place in the AFC North with him on the bench. The Browns coaching staff were universally panned by the media and college football fans for putting him on the bench in the first place and not handing him the starting job even though the coaches said repeatedly he wasn’t ready.

    So basically the only people who understood who Manziel was and held him accountable are now according to him responsible for him living up to the entire reason they didn’t want him in the first place and chose only to use him when they had no other choice.

    There will always be Manziel apologists out there. If he fooled Cleveland he’s still be there. Only people he fooled are the people who still think the guy was a victim of something.

  26. You are exactly right Florio, he is suffering the consequences of his actions. And I too am rooting for him to turn it all around and be a success. I just wish you would write with the same passion, clarity and honesty when describing the position that Kap is finding himself in.

  27. Make no mistake, the Manziel to Cleveland marriage was doomed for two reasons: (1) Cleveland was and still is completely incompetent and (2) Johnny was and still is hopelessly spoiled and immature. You can’t discuss one without the other.

    I for one believe Cleveland would have made a mess out of the career of any of these young QBs including Wentz, Goff, Winston and/or Mariota. And they will also ruin Darnold for sure if they get their hands on him. It is not complicated.

    As for Johnny, his only hope was had he been selected by a stable organization with a plan to train him how to develop as an NFL QB on and off the field. Not surprisingly, the organizations capable of this were not going to burn an early pick on a risky guy.

    So are we really suppose to believe that Cleveland doesn’t have a QB after running through so many guys over the last 15 years because they have just had a streak of bad luck? Look in the mirror Cleveland.

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