Everybody loves a good comeback story. When was the last time we had a great one? Not the kind of comeback that you see in a mildly entertaining sports movie that you’ll throw on if it comes up on FX. The kind of comeback where a player actually comes back from the dead in the eyes of the public. Once you’re out of the spotlight, you’re usually gone forever. In a strange twist, that’s exactly what’s going to save Johnny Manziel’s career.
Sometimes, the best thing you can hear is nothing at all. Sure, people scratch and claw to get to the top to grab ahold of the fame and fortune that comes with national attention, but it depends on how that spotlight reflects off of you. It’s all fun and games to have everyone recognize you until TMZ has a camera in your face while you’re trying to take a leak in an alleyway because the bathroom line is longer than the list of quarterbacks the Browns have had in the last decade. Speaking of Browns’ quarterbacks, that lack of media attention is finally proof that we can officially begin the Manziel comeback tour.
The reason Manziel is out of the league isn’t because of his talent. Sure, his seven touchdowns and seven interceptions to go along with his 2-6 record isn’t exactly something to hang your hat on, but we can back up the excuses truck for this one. He was on a God-awful offense on the worst franchise in football, was just entering the league and didn’t have time to adapt, and was probably drunk or high the whole time. You ever try to throw a tight spiral with a 6’4 defender in your face while your top target is Darius Jennings, all while high? That sounds harder than brain surgery. The reason why he’s out of the league is because he’s a media magnet.
How drunk are you getting this weekend?
Me: Johnny Manziel “money phone” drunkhttps://t.co/EIAuF3sGJa
— Damon Kecman (@DownWithDamon) July 2, 2016
We’ve seen the media kill players before. Just look at Tim Tebow and Colin Kaepernick. Sure, there were other issues there, but a large reason why those QBs never found the right job opportunities is because team’s didn’t have enough room on their roster for the 45 camera crews that followed them around. Manziel is no different, but different at the same time.
The more he was in the media, the worse it got for him. Granted, he was in the media for much different things than Tebow and Kap like domestic violence and drug abuse. For example, there was the time he was drunk and high on an airplane before he went missing momentarily. Having your life sound like a 2 Chainz verse is awesome until you realize you can not get a job and sound like a 2 Chainz verse. Those two things just never have, and never will go together. Manziel took the wrong route dealing with the media. Instead of staying out of their way, he embraced every single thing they did with this “f–k you” attitude.
Now, we don’t see Manziel flipping off the media or downing bottles of champagne at the club. We actually don’t see him at all. When you follow around a drunk with cameras and they stop drinking, then you’re just following around a man with no sense of purpose. People have been waiting to put the last shovelful of dirt on the Manziel grave, but he hasn’t given them a reason to. He’s actually coming off as someone who gets how to operate now.
“I know the situation that I put myself in. I know the year I took off and obviously the mistakes that I made. Right now, I’m hopeful. I’m really hopeful.”
When it comes to Johnny Football, you can look at the past for as long as you want, or you can accept the reality. He has stopped drinking, partying, acting like a douche (his words not mine), and essentially acting like a sideshow act. Now, just look at the talent. He has yet to prove he’s talented enough to perform in the league, but let’s all simultaneously grab some stepping stools to get off our high horses, and realize a majority of NFL backups haven’t.
Matt Barkley is sitting with eight touchdowns and 18 picks in three seasons, and he legitimately has a chance at starting this season. If Joe Flacco ends up getting hurt, Ryan Mallett is your savior in Baltimore. Players like Jake Rudock are actually backup quarterbacks in this league. You’d actually rather throw those players in instead of someone with potential like Manziel?
The point is, no matter what Manziel sniffed or what STDs he helped create, there was always potential there. The potential everyone saw when he racked up just under 10,000 total yards and 93 total touchdowns in just two seasons. He was the first freshman to ever win the Heisman and a first round pick for a reason. Whether his poor play was self inflicted or a curse of playing on the Browns, it’s hard to at least not have a little intrigue when it comes to a player like this.
Surely the media will return to Manziel’s side when he returns to football, but he deserves the faith that he’ll do the right thing with his refound attention since that’s all he’s done for the better part of a year. The body count is always high during training camp and the NFL season, and teams are bound to need a quarterback. The potential is there, it always has been. All we’ve needed was for Manziel to go radio-silent and sober for him to actually deserve that chance to fill a roster spot.
If you just compare his college numbers to the numbers of most backups while leaving the nonsense Manziel has set aside and take the names out of it, you pick Manziel nine times out of ten. Yes, this isn’t college and of course he can’t un-snort some of the things that have found their way up his nostril. Still, he’s overcome his biggest flaw yet. Progress like that deserves a shot.
It’s always been about staying sober and out of the spotlight. Now that the character that is Johnny Football is dead, Manziel the football player can finally have his day.