It seems like everyone has an opinion on former Cleveland Browns quarterback Johnny Manziel these days.
Some conclude that he wasn’t given a fair shake in Cleveland. Meanwhile, a vast majority of pundits out there conclude that the former Heisman winner failed to make the most of a golden opportunity.
Now out on the streets as a free agent, it’s not yet known what Manziel’s future in the National Football League might look like. Of course, that’s dependent on the enigmatic figure actually having a future in the NFL.
One player that is seemingly closer to Manziel than any other, former Browns teammate Josh McCown, just recently provided his opinion on the former first-round pick with some advice mixed in:
“I spent a year with him, and mentally and physically, he can do it. But he’s got to eliminate distractions and he’s got to move forward, and he’s got to ask himself, ‘Do I love the game?’” McCown said, via Pro Football Talk. “If ultimately, in his heart, he doesn’t love the game, he’s going to split his time between all these other things and trying to be good at football, and it’s just a hard sport to do that with.”
“All these other things” here being Manziel’s propensity to party hard off the field. It’s what led to his stint in rehab last year, and ultimately, his release from the Browns organization after just two seasons with the team.
The other issue here is the domestic violence case Manziel finds himself in — a situation that’s far from being settled.
McCown isn’t necessarily wrong. There’s a reason Cleveland selected Johnny Football in the first round of the 2014 NFL draft. There’s also a reason he was the toast of college football during his playing days with Texas A&M.
The larger problem is Manziel’s seemingly immature and volatile personality off the field. Add in questions surrounding substance abuse, and any team taking a chance on him would be placed under the proverbial microscope immediately.
In speaking to what he sees regarding Manziel’s off-field issues, the current Browns quarterback had this to say:
“It causes you to question whether or not they really love it. I feel like when he was in the meeting, and he was engaged, he absolutely loved it. But it’s a 24/7 deal as a quarterback. That’s the mindset you have to have, and I think that has to improve before somebody will observe you and go, ‘Yeah, you love it.’”
That’s what Manziel is going to have to show in order to get another shot in the NFL. Teams simply aren’t going to ignore myriad of off-field issues Manziel has displayed dating back to his days at College Station.
Equally as important, he needs to be primarily focused on playing football at a high level. Domestic violence issues and chemical dependency aside, an inability to do that won’t lead to success on the field.
Manziel would be smart to pay attention to McCown’s words. Despite not being anywhere near as talented as his former teammate, the Browns quarterback has made a career of this NFL thing by remaining mature off the field and displaying solid leadership tendencies on the field. In the end, that has to be Manziel’s guiding light moving forward.
As McCown prepares to take another embattled quarterback in Robert Griffin III under his wing in Cleveland, it’s now time for Manziel to get his house in order off the field. Heeding McCown’s advice would be a start.