Johnny “Football” Manziel: A Self-Destructive Year in Review

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Tom Szczerbowski / Getty Images

Two years ago, Johnny Manziel came into the NFL flashing his famous “money sign” with a ton of publicity and very little evidence that he could be a capable starter.

Manziel had more opportunities to play in 2015, got more burn on the field, and was gifted plenty of chances to pull Cleveland out of a football wasteland. Johnny Football showed some glimpses of a potential savior, but he also proved there is plenty for the Browns or any other potential employer to be wary of.

Here’s what we learned about Manziel in the last 12 months:

  • Two days after the 2014 NFL season, Manziel checked himself into rehab. The Browns had been suspicious of his lifestyle since an image of him in a bathroom with a rolled up bill popped up on the internet in 2014. Manziel spent 10 weeks in rehab and was discharged in time for the team’s offseason workout program.
  • Manziel emerged as one of Cleveland’s best QBs during the course of his second NFL season. His most prolific game was the Week 10 loss to Pittsburgh when he threw for 372 yards, a touchdown, and an interception.
  • There seems to be more dashcam footage of Manziel than actual game footage from this season. He was stopped for a variety of reasons in the last year, from officers responding to a domestic dispute in October to Manziel getting pulled over for driving with expired plates in January.
  • Manziel threw for seven TDs this season, which was tied with Nick Foles for No. 33 in the NFL. Johnny Football’s 1,500 passing yards ranked No. 35 in the league. There are only 32 NFL teams.
  • Seen as more of a running QB than a pocket passer, Manziel didn’t rush for any TDs this season and only has one in his career. That’s fewer than Baltimore QB Joe Flacco, who missed six games with a blown out knee and still ran in three TDs. Tom Brady, who you can clock in a 40-yard dash with a calendar, also ran for three.
  • A week after Manziel was named the Browns’ starter for the remainder of the season in late November, he was demoted to the No. 3 QB by head coach Mike Pettine after a video of Johnny Football partying during the team’s bye week appeared online.
  • Manziel told the Browns that the video was old, which turned out to be a lie.
  • Manziel is listed at 6-foot-tall, which also feels like a lie.
  • Johnny Football was also less than truthful with the Browns about his partying before. After his stint in rehab, he emerged saying he was a “changed man.” By October, he admitted that he was drinking again.
  • He lost the starting job more than once to Josh McCown, who has played for nine teams in 12 years. Manziel also finished the year behind Austin Davis on the depth chart. Davis had a passer rating of 66.2, which 73 other QBs bested this season.
  • The Saturday night before the Browns’ final game of the season, Manziel, out with a concussion, was reportedly spotted partying in at Planet Hollywood casino in Las Vegas, though the reports were never confirmed. Manziel geo-tagged himself in an Instagram photo snapped back home in Ohio but reportedly missed a meeting with team doctors Sunday morning.
  • According to reports, Johnny Football donned a fake mustache and a wig to keep his Vegas jaunt a secret.
  • After he failed to meet with the medical staff, protocol for all players with concussions, one report said the Browns were “done” with Manziel.
  • Manziel, who threw five picks in 10 games this season, still had fewer interceptions than three different Dallas QBs — Matt Cassel (7), Tony Romo (7), and Kellen Moore (6). Manziel, unsurprisingly, now wants to play for the Cowboys.
  • Remarkably, the only team Manziel was cut from this year was Lebron James’s LRMR agency, which handled Johnny Football’s endorsement deals since he was drafted. LRMR cut ties with Manziel at the end of the 2015 regular season. “Johnny needs to focus on personal growth, the next phase of his career,” LRMR partner Maverick Carter said. “And because LRMR continues to expand beyond marketing, we made the mutual decision that it was best to terminate our business relationship.”

At the end of another lost Browns season, the team cleaned house. A new head coach and a new general manager will attempt to guide the beleaguered franchise out of another dark period of Cleveland football next season. It remains to be seen if Manziel will be part of their plan.

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