It was May 8th, 2014, and the clock read 10:43 pm at Radio City music hall. The Philadelphia Eagles sat with the 22nd pick of the NFL draft until they got a call from Cleveland. Cleveland now had 22, and at 10:43, they made a choice that was risky but was expected to change Cleveland football. Johnny Manziel was finally off the board after being snubbed for 21 picks.
The Browns knew of Manziel’s off field history. The parties with Drake, previous arrests and other numerous party photos. They overlooked all of this though, and after Manziel sent a text to Browns QB coach Dowell Loggains that was then forwarded to head coach Mike Pettine saying “let’s wreck this league,” Cleveland decided to take a QB the city needed.
Manziel walked across stage and lifted up his signature “money sign,” shook the commissioner’s hand, finished an interview and then promptly called a bar in Texas, Chimy’s Cerveceria, buying everyone in attendance a Miller Lite and Fireball shot. Needless to say, the kid wasted no time spending his NFL money.
Manziel continues his partying lifestyle after the draft, with pictures of him on a floating swan drinking a bottle of champagne, rolling up a dollar bill in a bathroom and of course the famous money phone where he says “I can’t hear, there’s too much money in my f****** hand.” Manziel also says to media at the rookie symposium that there’s no way he’d change his lifestyle for anybody.
This was alarming to the Browns. They had invested a lot into the Heisman Trophy winner, and knew this is not how a starting quarterback was to act. This called for owner Jimmy Haslam to have a sit down and tell Johnny they expect better antics. Nothing got better. Manziel showed up late to training camp on August 14, 2014, but says he misread the schedule.
Four days later, the Browns take on the Washington Redskins to decide the starting quarterback between him and Brian Hoyer. Neither quarterback plays well and Johnny ends up flipping off the Redskins sideline getting him a $12,500 fine. Brian Hoyer is named the starter two days after the game.
The Browns start the season 7-4 behind Hoyer heading into a week 13 matchup on the road in Buffalo. Hoyer was coming off four rough games where he’d thrown a combined six interceptions, and many believed it could be Johnny Football time.
The Bills were up 17-3 early in the fourth quarter when they picked off Hoyer for the second time that game and eventually made it 20-3. Enter, Johnny Football.
Manziel’s first drive was impressive, going 3-4 with 54 yards and 13 yards on the ground that was capped off with him helicoptering into the endzone for his first NFL touchdown. Manziel lifts the money sign, the camera shows a pissed off Brian Hoyer, and many think a rally is coming.
Johnny’s final possession ended up being a turnover on downs where he was welcomed to the NFL by Kyle Williams on what many still think looked like a fumble by Manziel and a TD by Buffalo’s defense. The call was overturned though and the final was 26-10, Buffalo.
The Browns wouldn’t win another game, dropping their last five. Hoyer started again after being replaced and during the Browns matchup against the Colts, Hoyer missed a wide-open receiver deep down the middle and the cameras caught Manziel on the sidelines lip “I would’ve f****** hit him.”
After a crushing loss and sitting at 7-6 now, Mike Pettine decided to turn to Manziel for the Browns in division rival Cincinnati. The game was at home and many Clevelanders were excited thinking the Browns 21st starting QB since 1999 would finally end the pain they had gone through.
Johnny learned, this wasn’t College Station anymore. Manziel went 10-18 throwing two picks, two that should not have been thrown, two that looked like he tried to do to much and two that might not have been picked at A&M.
Still, Pettine gave Manziel the nod for week 15 in Carolina. The final score was a 17-13 loss, but Manziel was not present for most, getting knocked out of the game in the first half with a hamstring injury. This would mark the end of Johnny Manziel’s atrocious rookie campaign.
On December 29th, Manziel says he has to start putting his words into actions, and the Browns agree with him and less than a month later Manziel enters a rehab facility.
On April 11th, Manziel leaves the facility after an extended 10 week stay and later promises to keep the off field drama to a minimum. He also says that “Johnny Money” is no more and his signature money sign would not be seen again.
As the 2015 preseason starts Manziel has better results in his first two games running and throwing for a TD in both. He would miss the final two preseason games though with a sore elbow, giving the job to free agent signee Josh McCown.
The Browns open the season September 13th with the New York Jets and after a scary collision, Josh McCown is knocked out of the game and Manziel takes over. His first drive he throws a deep TD to Travis Benjamin but that would be the best result he’d get, later turning the ball over three times, two by fumble and one by an interception.
On September 20th Manziel would get the start for injured Josh McCown, and lead the Browns to a win over Tennessee in which he threw two more long TD passes to Travis Benjamin.
Mike Pettine then names McCown the starter again the week after, and this is where you wanna fasten your seat belts.
October 12th, police confront Manziel and his girlfriend on the side of a road in Avon, Ohio. Crowley, Manziel’s girlfriend, says to a witness that Manziel beat her. In a dashcam video, you can hear Manziel admit to drinking, and say she threw his wallet into some field, and that it was just a regular argument. Teammate Paul Kruger shows up at the scene as well and says to an officer, “if I can say one thing, that girl is not for him.” Manziel was not disciplined by the NFL.
November 5th Manziel starts for an injured McCown on Thursday night football and struggles against Cincinnati in a 31-10 loss. The following week with McCown still ailing, Manziel starts versus the Pittsburgh Steelers and throws for a career high 372 yards, one touchdown and one interception. Two days later, head coach Mike Pettine names Manziel the starter but says he must live up to the responsibilities of a starting quarterback. The following week is the bye week and Manziel promised he wouldn’t do anything to put a damper on his status as starter or embarrass the Cleveland Browns.
Think you know what happens next. November 23rd, a video appears on TMZ that shows Manziel drinking champagne in an Austin, Texas club. The video goes viral and a day later Mike Pettine announces Manziel has been demoted to third string. On the 26th, the world also learned that Manziel lied to the organization about when the video was filmed, losing further trust and accountability.
After having to watch Josh McCown and Austin Davis on the sidelines for two weeks, Manziel comes back on December 13th and starts versus San Francisco. The Browns won, 24-10, with Manziel throwing for 270 yards and throwing a TD and a pick. After the interception, Manziel grabbed the tablet on the sidelines and after watching what he’d done, smashed it over his head repeatedly. Social media also shows before the game that Manziel signs a $100 bill signed “Johnny Money” with his signature.
After starting versus Seattle and leading an opening drive touchdown the Browns offense was almost non existent, getting beaten 30-13. Manziel received high praise from all-pro cornerback Richard Sherman after the game.
Then there was Kansas City. The game resulted in a 17-13 loss but this is where many thought Manziel showed the most heart. He only threw for 136 yards but set the Browns quarterback rushing record for yards in a game with 108. With time winding down and down by four Manziel threw a pass over the middle that was caught but the team couldn’t get back to the line quickly enough resulting in Manziel ripping his helmet off and slamming it to the ground. Many thought it showed Manziel’s true desire to win, being furious after becoming 3-12 on the year.
Two days later on December 29th is where the true downfall of Johnny Manziel began. A video of him drinking a Four Loko in a private house singing “March Madness” by Future came about. On the 31st, the Browns rule Manziel out with a concussion for the final week.
As the last game against the Steelers arrived on January 3rd, there were rumors that people had spotted Manziel in Las Vegas the day prior to the game, disguising himself as Billy, wearing sunglasses and a blonde wig. On game day, Manziel did not attend a check up with the medical staff that was mandatory for before the game.
Manziel was then in attendance the day after when Jimmy Haslam introduce Sashi Brown as the new director of football operations.
On the 6th, Manziel gets caught with expired license plates. A week after, the Browns signed, former Bengal offensive coordinator, Hue Jackson to be the next coach, and a source came out that said Hue did not have any plans for Manziel.
Then the end of the line. On the 28th, Haslam says the team’s relationship can be fixable but that changes two days later when police investigate Manziel because of an altercation between him and his girlfriend in Fort Worth, Texas (Should’ve listened to Paul Kruger).
Then finally February 2nd, the team announces it will part ways with Johnny Manziel in March when it’s less of salary cap hit. There are now rumors saying the Rams and Chiefs are interested but the biggest of all is his hometown favorites, the Dallas Cowboys. Jerry Jones did have interest in Manziel the day of the draft but was told not to make him the pick.
It’s sad to see a career like Manziel’s go down this path, such an exciting player to watch, always capable of making plays ever since his days at Texas A&M. He can only blame himself though, and wherever he goes next, hopefully he’ll realize this isn’t college anymore. To be a starting QB it takes a strong work ethic, focus, attention to detail. The stuff like offseason work and week to week studying of film, playbooks and on and on should go without saying for any player, but especially a QB. Manziel’s potential and playmaking ability will get him a contract in the league but teams will not guarantee it if he is going to act like this any further. Farewell, Cleveland Browns edition of Johnny Manziel.
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