What goes up must come down. Such is the law of gravity, and apparently, the career arc of former quarterback Johnny Manziel, who won the Heisman Trophy in 2012. While many teams and fans prepare for the upcoming draft or simply divert their attention to other sports, Manziel has constantly ensured that the spotlight is on him for all of the wrong reasons.
Many people are concerned about the former Texas A&M prodigy — and rightfully so — because before all else he is a person, not an athlete. If the NFL cares about him, it must officially suspend him because it has cause and it will be in his long-term best interest.
Just this month, Manziel was accused of getting into a hit-and-run car accident, trashing a multimillion-dollar house he rented for a weekend of partying in Los Angeles with “shrooms” and cocaine in plain sight, partied at Coachella with former and still suspended Cleveland Browns teammate Josh Gordon and was dropped by mega-agent Drew Rosenhouse and Nike.
And that is just this month. When he was still a player for the Cleveland Browns, he showed up late for training, was reportedly drunk in meetings and showed up drunk to a practice.
The NFL is not the comedy series “Blue Mountain State,” or at least it should not be. Commissioner of the NFL Roger Goodell has suspended and disciplined NFL players for far less severe things, and in this case, Goodell has a more than legitimate reason to act.
Aside from the drinking and partying, Manziel was also accused of hitting and subsequently threatening to kill his now ex-girlfriend. While the case is soon going before a grand jury, the NFL should not tolerate these actions.
Manziel is innocent until proven guilty in the court of law, but there is absolutely no reason as to why the NFL should not suspend him until all of these legal or other matters are resolved. If facts proving Manziel’s innocence emerge, then the suspension can simply be terminated, just as if he were placed on administrative leave in any workplace setting.
More than anything, Manziel seems to need some sort of real-world discipline. It is largely unclear if he ever received it growing up, considering his family has had Texas oil money for generations and his family’s companies are worth millions of dollars. Plenty of fantastic NFL players and athletes as a whole have come from similar backgrounds, but with them, something clicked that just has not for Manziel.
Suspending Manziel does not necessarily require the cold shoulder treatment. His friends on other teams in the league — like fellow Texas A&M grad and Super Bowl 50 MVP Von Miller — and the NFL can still support him and offer him help with his personal life, but if Manziel is unwilling to take it, there is nothing the league and his friends can do. The NFL may as well divorce itself from him and avoid any guilt by association.
For about two months in 2015, Manziel did choose to enter some sort of treatment facility, but it is clear that he has ceded whatever progress he has made at that time. During his stint with the Browns, Manziel repeatedly vowed to own his mistakes and ensure that they would not happen again.
It may be too harsh to say that he lied, but he did not act on his words. In February of this year, his father Paul told media outlets that Manziel twice refused to enter rehab and that he was concerned his son would not live to see his 24th birthday.
Manziel, who said on Tuesday that he still hopes to play in the NFL in 2016, clearly needs help and refuses to acknowledge what is in his best interests — if he will not voluntarily enter rehab, the NFL must condition it or suspend him otherwise.
At this point, it is difficult to tell if Manziel is even trying. His recent actions suggest otherwise, and even if he is not suspended, there is little reason for an NFL team to spend the money and PR capital to sign him; no team needs a quarterback this bad. Even if one did, there are plenty of better veterans who are far less likely to end up on TMZ or the sixth page of the New York Post.
Manziel displayed promising talent, and there is undoubtedly plenty of blame to go around. But the person ultimately responsible for Manziel is himself. The privilege of playing in a grown man’s league requires one to be a grown man both physically and mentally. Unfortunately, Johnny is still a boy.
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