Johnny Football

Johnny Manziel is partying his way out of the NFL, and doesn’t seem to care.

Manziel sat out the Cleveland Browns season finale with a concussion, but according to owner Jimmy Haslam after the game—one in which he cut ties with both his GM, Ray Farmer, and his head coach, Mike Pettine—Haslam also took time to tell reporters that Johnny Football didn’t report for work this weekend.

Manziel was reportedly spotted in Las Vegas Saturday night after an appearance—the only way to really explain him showing up for work at this point—at the Browns facility earlier on Saturday morning. The Browns first tried to deny the report that Manziel was in Vegas, and even the quarterback sent an Instagram picture with him and his dog suggesting he was at home laying around on Saturday night, but several reports put Manziel in Vegas, including a USA Today story that has corroboration from his waitress and a guy on the casino floor who was there when Manziel sat down to a blackjack table.

USA Today reported that he paid cash for a meal at the Heart Bar at Planet Hollywood, and interviewed Tina Samira, a waitress who served Manziel and his guests.

A casino employee also examined Manziel’s photo ID at a blackjack table and said “we’ve got Johnny Manziel with us tonight,” John Hornacek, 43, a patron who was there at the time, told USA Today. []

Over Christmas, Manziel was photographed and seen on video drinking alcoholic beverages and being the overall, good-natured, party-guy self he’s been nothing but since he came onto the national landscape as a star in college.

(Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images)
(Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images)

He hasn’t changed, and it’s clear as day he has no intention of doing so. Manziel is either out of control, or stupid. Or both. It’s probably both.

Manziel’s first year in the league, on and off the field, was such a disaster that the guy went to rehab this off-season in what was a clear attempt to either rehabilitate his life or, at the absolute very least, his career. Less than a full NFL season later he’s already back to his old ways. For months.

We don’t know what actually happened when Manziel went to rehab, or the real reasons why he went, and it’s none of the public’s business, but whatever did take place during his time out of the spotlight last off-season, it’s clear it didn’t work.

The more Manziel is in the news, living this frat-boy lifestyle, the less it seems Manziel’s problem is an addiction to alcohol, and the more it seems his problem is an addiction to celebrity, to culture, to being Johnny Football.


Remember, Johnny Football had no problem ordering drinks as a teenager in a restaurant when a national reporter was sitting at the table doing a profile on him and his parents were by his side. Remember, Johnny Football was seen partying both before and after the NFL draft, and countless times in the last two seasons. Sure, alcohol played a role, and yes, dependence is a disease we are not trying to belittle in anyway. It’s just worth wondering what he’s really addicted to the most.

Let’s not forget, Manziel doesn’t need the NFL money, and even if his family wasn’t well off enough for him to live a great life as a hometown hero in Texas after football, he could survive for years off free meals and autographs everywhere he goes.

Manziel is a bona fide celebrity at a time when our celebrities are on 24-7. The NFL seems like nothing more than a convenient way to stay for Johnny Football relevant, to get into the next party without paying a cover, to be surrounded by girls and free booze and people with cameras pointed at him, to have a blackjack dealer announcer his name to raucous cheers the night before his team’s last game.

Johnny Manziel is out of control, and stupid. It’s both.

It’s always been both.

Now the question is what to do about him? The Browns are reportedly “so over” Manziel, as if there’s anyone left in the organization to be over him at this point anyway. Haslam has proven to be a wildly overmatched NFL owner to this point in his tenure, which makes him pretty much the perfect owner for someone like Manziel.

Would his antics work in New England or New York or Seattle? (I could ask that about both Manziel and Haslam, to be fair.)

Cleveland Browns v Buffalo Bills

Johnny Football reportedly wants to go to Dallas, and perhaps not showing up for work on Sunday was his George Costanza-esque way of trying to get fired so the Yankees would hire him.

Only, it doesn’t work that way in the NFL, or in the real world. Manziel can’t just party-boy his way out of Cleveland and expect any other team, even one run by party-man Jerry Jones, to take him in. He isn’t that good of a quarterback to warrant the considerable amount of risk.

In two seasons in the NFL, Manziel has thrown 258 passes and rushed 46 times. He has more turnovers in his career (10) than he has total touchdowns (8). He has started eight games in two years and the Browns have won two of those games. He is, by all measures, a bad quarterback with good skills, someone with seemingly unlimited potential that may never be reached.

That’s not Cleveland’s fault. That’s Manziel’s fault.

Sure, Cleveland was ridiculously naïve to draft him. There’s a reason the Heisman-trophy winner dropped to the late first round of the 2014 NFL Draft, and it probably had little to do with his size and style on the field.

Teddy Bridgewater dropped to the end of the first round of the draft, inexplicably taken after Manziel. Derek Carr was taken in the early second round. Hell, AJ McCarron was a fifth-round pick that year and Zach Mettengerger a sixth-rounder, with his own issues for sure, and all of those quarterbacks should have Browns fans pining for their services after two years dealing with the Manziel effect.

Manziel is a clown, so now we’re left thinking Dallas will take him under their circus tent? After the year they had?

2014 NFL Draft

Sure, we know the stories of Jones wanting to draft Manziel so much he had to have the card taken out of his hand to take offensive guard Zach Martin instead. And yes, there were rumors before this season that Manziel would be shipped to Dallas. Tony Romo isn’t getting any younger, or healthier, and the quarterbacks after Romo on the roster are a disaster. But even with all that, how Jones could be convinced Manziel is the future for Dallas on the field would be as damning to the owner as how he thinks Manziel may ever be interested in rehabilitating himself off it.

Manziel is out of control. And he’s stupid. He is going to continue to be out of control and stupid the rest of his career, however long that lasts. His off-the-field antics the last two months—shit, let’s be real, the last two years— show someone who either doesn’t understand what it takes to be successful in the NFL and never will or, frankly, someone who gets it, but just doesn’t care.

Why should the Browns, then? Why should Dallas? Why should any team?

About Dan Levy

Dan Levy has written a lot of words in a lot of places, most recently as the National Lead Writer for Bleacher Report. He was host of The Morning B/Reakaway on Sirius XM's Bleacher Report Radio for the past year, and previously worked at Sporting News and Rutgers University, with a concentration on sports, media and public relations.