Johnny Manziel is a classic example of what happens when a person prioritizes their social life over their professional life. He had a golden opportunity, but he blew it because he couldn't stop partying, and the party scene eventually consumed him.
When Johnny was in college, he could do no wrong. He made dazzling, athletic, and sometimes acrobatic plays during his record-shattering freshman season at Texas A&M, which concluded with him being the first-ever freshman to win the Heisman Trophy. He was talked about as though he was one of the greatest athletes to ever walk the earth. He was just a college kid, but he was treated like a celebrity, with actual celebrities giving him shout-outs online and in-person, and a few even becoming personal friends of his. One of his closest friends was rapper Drake, who even wrote a song about Johnny Manziel called "."
Johnny relished being in the spotlight, so he lived it up. He was frequently seen in photographs on social media partying it up in exclusive nightclubs, drinking with friends, and hanging out with gorgeous coeds. Therein lied the problem: he was hard-partying rather than hard-working, and no one bothered to stop him.
No one was surprised when he announced that he was entering the NFL draft in 2014. The talent was obvious. But there were lingering questions about him, both on and off the field. On the field, analysts wondered:
- Could he become a pure pocket passer on the professional level after relying so heavily on his running ability in the college level?
- Is he too small to be an efficient pro quarterback?
- Can he adapt to the pro game since he didn't take the ball from under center in college?
- Could he stick to the playbook or would he continue improvising at a whim?
However, it was his off-field issues that were the biggest red flags. Analysts wondered:
- Can he stop partying and drinking?
- Will he take the game seriously enough to study and grasp all of the complexities of an NFL playbook?
- Can he actually be a leader of others rather than an exceptional solo star?
- Will he let his celebrity status - earned before even becoming a pro - get to his head?
- Would the controversies and legal issues he encountered in college follow him into the pro level?
The Cleveland Browns organization seemed to think he could overcome all of these things, so they made some magical moves to get him in the first round (the second of their two first round picks). It was a tremendous gamble, and they crapped out.
All of the off-the-field concerns for Johnny became worse. He couldn't stop drinking, and got to the point he had to go to rehab. He never committed to being a leader on the team and a student of the game, and thus never developed as a player. Even when faced with simple ultimatums from his coach and team to stop partying, or at least not allow himself to be seen partying, he still showed up on Instagram and elsewhere online with red cups in his hands. He managed to get into even more legal trouble. He showed off his unsportsmanlike side during his bad performances by doing things like flipping off a crowd when he had a bad game, and doing that annoying money gesture when he made mediocre plays.
The Browns were willing to hand him the starting position if he just showed that being a great NFL quarterback was his priority, but instead he just kept screwing it up, chance after chance. Eventually the team realized that it would be a waste of time and money to wait for him to change, so they cut ties with him. Even his agent Drew Rosenhaus gave up on him, and Drew is known for sticking with his athletes through some tough situations. It was a sad downfall and a waste of talent because on his good days he actually looked like a good QB.
There is a saying that money and fame don't change you, they merely reveal and amplify who you really are. When Johnny Manziel got the money and fame, he revealed his true colors: he is a hard-partying, unreliable, unaccountable man-child who ran away from maturity faster than he ran away from opponents.