Johnny Manziel became Johnny Football by partying hard on Friday nights and doing incredible feats on the football field on Saturday afternoons at Texas A&M. The party boy earned his other nickname – Money Manziel – by rubbing his fingers together to make the money signal whenever he did something great. Manziel did a lot of things great back then – he won the Heisman Trophy as a freshman, the first time that had ever been done in college football – and it was enough to earn him a reputation as an entertainer, athlete and sure-to-be-moneymaker in the NFL.
However, if anyone had been paying attention, they would’ve realized that when it came to professional football, where men are paid to wreck quarterbacks, Johnny was bound to be over matched.
Johnny’s father once bought his son a car when he refused to stop drinking in high school. This brilliant parenting choice didn’t get Manziel to stop underage drinking, but it did convince him he was bullet proof. Once Johnny made it to A&M, he was immediately Big Man on Campus. He was able to run the slower and smaller college football linemen into circles. His run into the history books made the alumni proud – so proud they coughed up $127 million in just one season to build all manner of football related projects at the school.
So it was easy to see why anyone would have cut Manziel some slack when he was accused of signing autographs and pocketing a few thousand dollars while still in college. The rules in the NCAA prohibit college players from making any money at all apart from the $75.00 jersey sales the schools make off of them. Manziel went on to serve a suspension for his actions, but came back just as good, just as drunk, and even more angry than ever before.
Manziel went on the NFL draft at his earliest possible eligibility date. He was disappointed with being down the draft board in day 1 – despite the presence of bigger and stronger quarterbacks, Manziel thought he was the class of the field. So when he texted the new, helpless quarterbacks coach of the Cleveland Browns with the message “let’s wreck this league,” the quarterback-inept Browns took the bait and selected Manziel on the 22nd pick in the draft. But Manziel and the Browns were the ones about to get wrecked.
Manziel said all the right things leading up to draft day, but the moment he became a “professional” was where things got tough. The Browns thought Manziel should “study the playbook” and learn to “be a good teammate.” Manziel thought he could waltz into the NFL with the same party boy approach he had in college and already sponsors were lining up to prove him right. He signed a huge endorsement deal with Nike and started hanging out with LeBron James.
Of course the rest of the story is by now familiar. How he was drunk and riding a swan in Las Vegas. How he was seen snorting white dust through a rolled up bill in a club bathroom. How he turned up drunk and hungover during his first season with the Browns. How he missed a team flight and a game because he overslept, again too hungover to rise.
Manziel went to rehab for 74 days after his rookie season and emerged once again saying all the right things. Manziel was great at telling people what they wanted to hear. So great, in fact, that when the signs of disaster started piling up again, people dismissed them away. Signs like sending home his sober coach and moving in with his college girlfriend, day drinking, shoving his girlfriend while they were driving down the highway, taking off for Las Vegas during the season, and partying at A&M while his competitors were home studying the playbook. All of which culminated in an off-season where Manziel was fired by LeBron, the Browns, two agents and Nike.
In between Manziel assaulted his girlfriend and partied it up some more at Coachella. It looks like Manziel will now be indicted for domestic abuse against his girlfriend, which although a misdemeanor, could still land him in jail. Maybe his new nickname will be Orange Jumpsuit Manziel. Johnny Football is going to long for the day when he was wearing the Cleveland Browns variety of orange.