Friday, September 1, 2023

Character Matters. The Johnny Manziel Fiasco

In college Johnny Manziel was a superstar.
Cleveland baseball and football fans have had a pretty rough go of it during the past sixty years. The city's bad luck in baseball was so legendary that a book was written about it: Terry Pluto's The Curse of Rocky Colavito. Cleveland Browns fans haven't fared much better. In fact, the last bit of really good news for Browns fans was when owner Art Modell moved the team to Baltimore but allowed Cleveland to retain the Browns name and uniforms. 

Bill Bellicek was head coach at that time, with an outstanding record in the works when, mid-season, Modell announced the move. Things quickly unravelled and have never been the same.

One good thing about a losing record in the NFL is that you get top draft picks. The worst teams become first in line for the annual crop of college stars on the auction block.

In 2014 the Browns selected Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel to lead them back to becoming a contender. The kid had talent, they said. The moment he was drafted, however, it became apparent he was missing something. Flaunting his mega-millions contract, it seemed plain that this was not going to be the hero who would carry this team. It's truly a shame because the opportunity was right there in front of him. Instead, he derailed his career with a combination of poor decisions and personal issues. 

Here's a short list of reasons Johnny boy failed in Cleveland and was unable to get a gig with any other NFL team afterwards.

His off-field behavior was a constant issue. He faced legal troubles, including allegations of domestic violence, bar fights, and reckless driving. These incidents tarnished his reputation and led to disciplinary actions from the NFL and his team.

Substance abuse was another issue, primarily alcohol and partying, which negatively impacted his performance and behavior. His partying lifestyle was well-documented in the media, and it raised concerns about his commitment to football.

His lack of preparation was similarly indicative of his lack of commitment to Cleveland success. Leaders lead by example. Tom Brady's preparation for games was legendary. There were reports that Manziel did not put in the necessary effort to prepare for games and improve his skills as a quarterback. This lack of dedication and focus on his career hindered his development as a professional player.

By his inconsistent performance on the field it became apparent to all that he was in over his head at the pro level. Combined with the distractions of his personal life, legal issues and public disputes, it's easy to see why Manziel stumbled. Add to this his unwillingness to assume responsibility for his own behavior and you have the kind of player who becomes odious to fans. He disrespected his team mates as well as the Browns organization that had recruited him. After two years his NFL career was over. 

Such a shame.

Moral of the Story: Pride goes before a fall. 

Character counts. It doesn't matter how smart or talented you are, if you lack character you will very likely undermine your dreams of future success. 

Manziel photo is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0

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