Should the Browns be more worried about Johnny Manziel?
With very little actual football activities taking place since that day, the national media has had a field day chronicling Manziel’s off-the-field antics. From pool parties with Rob Gronkowski, to money phones and inflatable swans, there has been no shortage of talking points for those people who care about such things. And with a little more than a month until training camp starts, there will undoubtedly be more opportunities to shine a light on Manziel.
For the most part we’ve tried to drown out the noise, partially because as a Browns fan we’d be perfectly happy if the national media minded their own business, and also because it is the off-season and what Manziel does with his free time is up to him.
But is there possibly more to this situation, a darker side that, as a Browns fan, we don’t want to confront?
We started thinking about that more after reading today’s edition of “Hey, Mary Kay!” in The Plain Dealer. In response to a question about Manziel’s behavior, beat writer Mary Kay Cabot advocated having Manziel “evaluated by a chemical dependency counselor to make sure he does not have a problem.”
There is no doubt that Manziel is acting like a 21-year-old with equal parts money and free time. He is going to the NBA Finals (not sure why he’s skipping the World Cup), hanging out with famous people and, yes, partying. He also has been at every practice and team meeting, as well as every rookie activity and appearance that the Browns have held.
But does that mean he has a problem?
Well … maybe. But that is a difficult question to answer once you start separating what people know from what people think they know.
So what do we know? For starters, Manziel had some problems while he was at Texas A&M, from illegally parking his car, to helping out a friend in a bar fight, to running afoul of the NCAA. According to ESPN, he also saw an alcohol counselor, a report that Manziel denied.
Since the draft, Manziel has been at the Las Vegas pool party with Gronk, at a party floating on the inflatable swan, at the party with the stack of cash, and at some other events that are probably slipping our mind.
Everything else is just pure speculation.
People are assuming that because he is at a party that Manziel must have a drinking problem. They see him on an inflatable swan and conclude that he is hammered. That is certainly a possibility, but there is also the possibility that he thought it would be funny to float around on an inflatable swan. (Hey, who hasn’t wanted to do that at some point?)
There is also the assumption that Manziel’s social life is taking him away from learning the Browns playbook. Because sites like TMZ haven’t made it their mission to follow players like Teddy Bridgewater or Blake Bortles around, there is the assumption that, of course, those players are sitting at home every night, learning everything they can about their respective offenses.
Again, that is certainly a possibility, but no one really knows – and that is the bigger point.
Unless you are in attendance at one of the same parties or events as Manziel, there is simply no way of knowing exactly what is going on. The media certainly doesn’t know, the fans don’t know, the team itself may not even know for sure.
In a lot of ways Manziel is a victim of the time he lives in. The social media age makes it hard to keep thinks private as everyone has a cell phone camera and just can’t wait to let the world know what they are up to. Fifteen years ago we wouldn’t know anywhere near as much about Manziel’s life as we do now. Some of that is on Manziel, but you can only control your surroundings so much when you are in a public place.
“I’m not concerned,” Browns head coach Mike Pettine said earlier this month when asked about Manziel. “I would become concerned if it was something criminal, and I would be concerned if it affected his job. I think a lot of our guys, when they leave here if they were followed around, you’d get some very similar pictures. I don’t know about an inflatable swan, but I think you’d get some pictures.”
We have to think that the Browns checked out Manziel as much as they could before drafting him. If they had any serious concerns about him or his behavior, we would like to think that they would have passed on drafting him.
Would Manziel be better off if he was a little less high profile? Probably, but it doesn’t seem like it’s time for a Dr. Drew intervention.
Can Manziel put the nonsense aside when it matters this summer and fall? Right now there is no reason to think he won’t; although until he does we won’t know for sure.
If the Browns have a problem with Manziel, we’ll know about it once the team steps on the field. If he can’t play, or if he spends time during the season partying rather than working, then the team will have a problem.
Until then, it may be a good idea for everyone to take a deep breath and bring some perspective to Manziel Mania.
Although when it comes to everything Manziel, that may be asking too much.