Manziel can silence detractors by becoming star on Sundays

Johnny Manziel can prove his critics wrong by winning when he given the opportunity.

Andrew Weber/Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

The weekend is here, which means the Johnny Manziel watch is on.

Get your popcorn and Instagram ready.

Johhny is going to be Johnny — that much is very certain by now — and his escapades are going to continue to be talked about. Former Cleveland Browns first-round quarterback Brady Quinn speaking up about Manziel’s off-field choices and behavior sparked some discussion this week, mostly because everything Manziel does seems to spark discussion.

It brought a couple thoughts to mind, too.


Quinn has some good perspective on what Manziel is going through and will go through over the next 16 months or so, and even likely beyond that. They were not only both drafted by rebuilding Browns franchises at No. 22 overall after a trade up, but both entered the league with more fanfare and notoriety than most rookies do.

More than about Manziel listening or toning down his act, though, is Manziel doing what Quinn never did.


That would change lots of arguments and lots of narratives.

That, truly and thoroughly, would allow Johnny to be Johnny and push his crazy popularity even further through the roof.

Even Manziel’s harshest critics aren’t trying to wish the summer away, but people want to see Johnny Football play football. And though expectations for his rookie season should be tempered even if he can win the Browns starting job away from Brian Hoyer sometime between August and November, the Browns drafted Manziel to become the type of quarterback that can help the team get out of its extended slump.

Again, Quinn would know.

Quinn was the first guy in the quarterback’s room and the last to leave. He knew the playbook inside and out. He never turned down an interview request or a chance to help in the community or with someone in need. It was genuine, too – that’s who Quinn was and presumably still is.

He carried himself like the face of a franchise would, and he referenced that in his Sirius XM NFL radio interview earlier this week.

"I don’t think it’s respectful to the other veteran players too right now that are probably taking care of their bodies, trying to prepare to go into a winning season right now instead of doing things like that off the field," Quinn said of Manziel’s weekend jaunts. "The thing I’m most worried about is what you’re kind of seeing off the field. Some people say you can work hard and play hard, but I think my biggest issue with it is when you’re drafted in the first round, you’re the face of the franchise."

Immediately, the pro-Johhny Celebrity part of the Twittersphere started wondering what Quinn would know about playing like the face of a franchise. It’s a valid question as Quinn went 3-9 as a Browns starter. He has a career 53.8 percent completion percentage with 12 touchdowns and 17 interceptions.

If Manziel eventually wins, he wins every argument with every Brady Quinn everywhere.

Besides the fame each gained during their college careers and their longer than expected waits in the NFL Draft green room, the one thing Quinn and Manziel have in common now is their ability to cash in on that fame not just before becoming an NFL starter but before playing an NFL down. Quinn was featured in multiple national advertising campaigns as a rookie. Manziel has a Nike deal and already has done one McDonald’s commercial with LeBron James.

Not many backups do commercials. What Quinn might be trying to tell Manziel is those who do are better received in the locker room when their teammates know football comes first.

We don’t know if Manziel heard Quinn’s comments and thoughts. We don’t know if Manziel has heard any of the comments, criticisms and thoughts surrounding his off-field behavior because the Browns have kept him off limits from the media.

Plus, the last time we saw Manziel was on Instagram, and he was saying he couldn’t hear because of all the money he was holding in his hand.

Even those who defend Manziel’s right to his weekend drinking excursions or chalk them up to youthful exuberance or ignorance — mostly children themselves — have to admit that was a bad look. On the flip side, the Browns don’t have a game for 11 weeks, and just about every Browns player who’s been asked about Johnny Weekend said he’s been good worker and good teammate during the work week.

A quick glance at the calendar indicates that Manziel has this plus four more weekends before he has to report to training camp. Then, too, Mike Pettine and Ray Farmer will probably sleep better on Friday and Saturday nights.

Ultimately, Manziel will be remembered for what he does on Sundays. If he wins, what’s already a phenomenon now will only grow.