Johnny Manziel is back — again.
The controversial Browns quarterback will be behind center when Cleveland faces-off against the San Francisco 49ers, thus ending a 2-game suspension that lead many to believe Manziel wouldn’t see the light of day on an NFL roster ever again. But according to the Journal Recorder, Johnny Football is here to stay — for now.
“The Browns, as a whole, are just an absolute disaster, and adding Manziel back to the starting lineup is simply a means to see what he has and maybe boost waning ticket sales.”
The troubled Manziel faced disciplinary action after photos and videos surfaced during the Browns bye week of a supposedly sober Manziel partying it up with champagne bottles in hand. Making matters worse, Jay Glazer of FOX Sports reported at the time that Manziel tried to cover up the video by lying about it to the Browns organization.
“Manziel had told the organization that the video was old and also told friends to lie to the team about the date of the video,” Glazer reported.
This came on the heels of yet another incident weeks before, when Johnny was pulled over by police after getting into an argument with his girlfriend, according to SB Nation. Complicating matters further was the report that Manziel had been drinking earlier in the day with friends of his in downtown Cleveland.
No charges were filed against Manziel, and after a thorough investigation, the NFL decided not to punish Johnny with any disciplinary action at the time.
But the coaching staff, especially head coach Mike Pettine, had grown tired of Manziel’s antics and decided to bench him for the remainder of the season in favor of free agent acquisition Josh McCown. That plan went hopelessly awry (as things in Cleveland seem to always do) when McCown went down with a season-ending collar bone injury suffered in the Browns loss to the Baltimore Ravens in Week 12.
Not wanting to relent on Manziel’s suspension, Coach Pettine turned instead to journeyman Austin Davis for the Browns game against the Cincinnati Bengals in Week 13. Davis did not make much of his opportunity, however, as the Bengals crushed Cleveland 37-3, sending Pettine back into a swirl of confusion as to which quarterback he would start.
Earlier in the week, it was being reported that Manziel would indeed get the nod, but Coach Pettine spoke at his weekly news conference on December 7 implying the report was false and that he hadn’t yet decided which quarterback to start — Johnny Manziel or Austin Davis — against the San Francisco 49ers on December 13. The quandary seemed to imply a rift between the coaching staff and front office, who wants to see Manziel get into the game. It’s been widely rumored that Pettine himself is done with Johnny Football and his antics altogether.
Ultimately, however, the Browns will, indeed, turn to Manziel, who has four games to prove that he won’t be a bust quarterback coming out of college. The topic of whether Johnny will fail is a hot one around media outlets, with several falling on either side of the debate.
Bleacher Report, for example, feels Manziel is doomed to fail.
“If you believe he is [going to succeed], you’re doing what the Browns are. You are fooling yourself. He can’t run a modern offense. The coaching staff doesn’t want him. That’s clear.”
However, other media outlets, such as Cleveland, is looking at his performance against the Steelers prior to the bye week fiasco as hope that Johnny can turn things around.
“His last start was an encouraging one in Pittsburgh. He fumbled on his first play, then he regrouped and showed real poise.”
Whatever the final fate, one thing is clear — the future of Johnny Manziel in the NFL begins today.
[Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images]