Holding Yourself Accountable: The Saga of the Cleveland Browns and Johnny Manziel
I love following sports because it is a microcosm of what is right…and what is wrong with today’s society. How we “play” on a field often mirrors how well we play with others off the field.
Oh, us poor souls who grew up following Cleveland sports teams. We have been forced to look at the bigger picture, to ponder the philosophical aspects of the game; because nothing good rarely happens on the field. We have been forced to find the silver lining some place besides the old ballpark. Sadly, any hopes we Browns fans had of watching our team appear in a post-season game were left in shambles once again as our team lost the last 5 games.
With the season over and the bitter taste of that 5 game losing streak still on our tongues, the local media has been dissecting every aspect of the Cleveland Browns football program. Trust me, there isn’t a stone left unturned at Browns headquarters in search of finding and eradiating that pesky losing bug. There has been ample finger pointing at press conferences. There have been threats issued There have been jobs put on the line.
The focus of much of this blame game has been placed squarely on the shoulders of Browns first round pick…Quarterback Johnny Manziel...or as he is called from his glory days in college, Johnny Football. The Browns selected Manziel with their 22nd pick in the first round. He was projected to be selected higher than that, but many teams picking higher than the Browns selected someone else. Manziel was a legitimate star in college. He broke dozens of records at Texas A&M, was a Heisman Trophy winner, and led his team to many thrilling victories.
While he certainly had the credentials, there was some intangible reason why 21 other college players were selected ahead of him. Some say it was his size, or lack thereof. Some say it was the size of his ego; of which there was no lack. It was huge! Hell, if the world is calling you Johnny Football…it would be hard not to have a huge ego. I think what turned me off to him was his annoying habit of rubbing his fingers together after he did something good on the field. His signature move was that of someone fingering a wad of money. I guess you could call it his “money shot”… his close-up for the camera. I grew up in the Paul Brown era of football. As coach of the Browns during their glory years, Brown hated when players showed any sort of emotion after scoring a touchdown. He used to say, “Don’t act like it is the first time you have ever been in the end zone.”
So our season of huge expectations began with training camp and it was a complete media circus, the likes of which had not been seen in Cleveland since the murder trial of Sam Sheppard. Local and national sports personalities showed up to interview Johnny Football. People hung on his every word. He had already been declared the savior of the Browns…and he hadn’t even touched a football. I am surprised, after the media storm generated, that someone didn’t suggest that Johnny Football attempt to walk on the surface of Lake Erie. Sadly, being the subject of that same media storm, I think Johnny believed he could have walked upon those very waters all the way to Canada.
As training camp was progressing, Johnny Football wasn’t. He had fallen victim to thinking that hype could make up for hard work. Sadly, Johnny isn’t alone in this thinking. We have a great many others in this country who think exactly like Johnny. So, instead of reading about Manziel studying offensive formations in his playbook, we saw him studying the formations of bikini-clad women in Las Vegas. Instead of seeing photos of Johnny quenching his thirst with Gatorade on the sidelines, we saw him quenching his thirst sitting on a bar stool. At the end of training camp, his lack of effort and preparation earned him his rightful place on the bench. While Johnny was entertaining the media and himself, someone with a real work ethic had beaten him out of the starting quarterback spot.
Johnny put his time on the bench to good use. Rather than watch and learn, he deemed it a great time to catch up with the world on Twitter. Johnny tweeted his time away, while the rest of the stadium focused on trying to win the game. Rather than putting in extra time watching film and trying to improve his game, he rested on the laurels of past games…failing to see that next game was what was important.
On the second to the last game of the season, Johnny was given his opportunity to shine when he started over the struggling starting quarterback. To say that he was underwhelming would be charitable. Following the game, he did the usual damage control press conference and promised that he learned his lesson that hard work trumps bullshit, and that he would buckle down and do the heavy lifting required to be successful. The following weekend, last game of the season, Johnny was spotted once again on a bar stool getting his weekend buzz off to an early start. Game day, sitting in his usual spot on the bench, Johnny kept his idle hands busy tweeting to his peeps.
And so the controversy continues…will he be back next year? Will he ever live up to his hype? Will he be unceremoniously released by the Browns, so he can take his skills to another team in search of a player whose best games so far are located in a scrapbook????
I hope Johnny gets his act together…I really do. I would like nothing more for him than to become a positive role model of someone who overcame adversity through hard work. I would love for him to tell us all that there are no shortcuts in life, that if you want something you had better be prepared to work hard to get it.
I am going to end this with a quote from Vince Lombardi, the famous coach of the Green Bay Packers…”The dictionary is the only place that success comes before work. Hard work is the price we must pay for success. I think you can accomplish anything if you're willing to pay the price.”