Just mere days after J.R. Smith told NBA.com that he’s playing better basketball in Cleveland because there’s absolutely nothing for him to do out here, Mary Kay Cabot breaks the news that Johnny Manziel entered into a treatment facility to “get the help he needs.” The exact nature of his treatment has not been specified.
My first thought when I heard the news? This has got to be one massive PR stunt for Manziel; backlash for the ESPN tell-all by Fowler and McManamon—published only four days prior to his check-in to rehab—citing the difficulties Johnny Football faced on and off the field this season.
Let’s, for a moment, think back to the most embarrassing thing that happened to you as a 21-year-old on a drunken night. What’s that? You can’t remember all the humiliating shit you’ve done when you were wasted? You’ve mentally blocked your most horrifying moments out of your head? Oh. Okay. Now, imagine those moments you tried so hard to forget are forever immortalized, scrutinized and criticized by the media. Yep, there’s you, blacked out and licking a freakin’ light switch, plastered all over the news, and Twitter, and Facebook the next day for your parents and your boss to see. Not so much fun when you think about it that way, eh? Granted, Manziel should have some form of awareness that he is a public figure when making the decision to go out and party, but he’s also still an inexperienced kid.
With a rookie QB like Manziel, coming into a city like Cleveland, and playing for a team like the Browns, that so desperately needs some consistency… it’s a lot of pressure put on a 22-year-old. The hype surrounding ‘Johnny Cleveland’ being the answer for a struggling organization was palpable. And with that buildup, there comes a lot of responsibility to preserve your reputation.
The media obsessing over his whereabouts off the field didn’t bother me as much at first, because we never saw that lifestyle reflect on the field. That is, until he was named starter in Week 15 against the Bengals, and he clearly looked confused by the routes, he ineffectively called plays, and he couldn’t really make much of anything happen on offense. And then he was too hungover to wake up for treatment before our final game? And other players were affected by this party he supposedly threw the night before too? Now, his party lifestyle seemed anything but harmless. Clearly there are deeper issues going on here that even people within the organization may not even know.
…And proceed to feel like a dick for thinking this was all a publicity stunt.
In all honesty, if Johnny really needs the help, it’s huge that he made the decision to get it. This represents one of the first times since he was drafted that he let his actions speak louder than his words. I have nothing but support and respect for that, and I think it’s safe to say we are all rooting for him to get the help he needs and to work on bettering himself as a person.
As for next season… if he is healthy, I say let Johnny start. Every game. Let’s see if he’s really taking the steps to take his job seriously, and let’s see if he is made for the NFL. Worst case scenario? The Browns go 0-16, and we can draft the next flavor-of-the-week QB next year. Best case scenario? Well, let us all be reminded that in 1996, Brett Farve’s 46-day stint in rehab (for an addiction to Vicodin) allowed him to lead the ’96 Packers to their best season in 30 years, a Super Bowl and an MVP for Farve. I mean. Anything can happen.