Johnny Manziel has just about everything a 21-year-old could want.
One notable exception would be the starting quarterback’s job for his employer, the Cleveland Browns.
There are a million things Manziel could have done this weekend, his first free weekend since the Browns drafted him earlier this month and then immediately announced that Manziel had won nothing yet. There were 999,999 better ideas for the weekend than Manziel going to Las Vegas and spraying champagne in front of folks with camera phones.
It’s a free country, and Manziel is very much his own man. But the Browns have been publicly asking Manziel to stay in his playbook, and he very publicly chose to go to Las Vegas and live it up.
Maybe this won’t matter in the long run (and chances are it won’t), but while Johnny Football is competing for a job he needs to put football before Johnny.
Just last week, Browns general manager Ray Farmer said incumbent starter Brian Hoyer was better than Manziel "by a substantial margin" right now.
That should have been Manziel’s call to cancel his plane ticket.
He flew out of Cleveland like regular folks do; regular Cleveland folks on the plane recognized him, and word spread through Twitter that Manziel was going to Vegas. He’s used to the spotlight and the celebrity life and clearly enjoys it. Manziel knows the cameras will be following and waiting. This is not his first champagne-soaked rodeo.
It probably won’t be his last, either, and that’s fine.
His timing just stunk. Privately, the Browns are probably already bracing themselves for July 4.
He’ll be back with the team Tuesday, and he and Hoyer and the rest of the Browns will be back to work. If Manziel gives the Browns the best chance to win in Pittsburgh on Sept. 7, he’ll be playing. If he’s ready to play and to win this year, his weekend in Vegas in May will have zero bearing on how he does against the Ravens and the Bengals and the other teams the Browns face in November and December.
Consider what Browns coach Mike Pettine said last week of Manziel’s progress: "He’s more worrying about getting the formation right, making sure the motion’s correct and he’s got the cadence. Then he’s got to worry about where guys are."
Sounds like a private Florida beach with the playbook in hand — even if he had a Bud Light in the other — would have been a better play.
The people he has to impress — and I’m guessing in this order — are Pettine, team owner Jimmy Haslam, Farmer and offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan. Another guess: None of the above are especially impressed that the guy three of them have gone out of their way to call a backup is back on TMZ.
Especially this soon.
He’s 21 years old. He’s an NFL player. He’s allowed to do what he wants and spend his money and his time how he wants.
All of that is right. He’s just allowing the Browns to be right when they say he’s not ready.