AFC North: Cleveland Browns
While stressing several times that he loves Carter (an ESPN analyst), Irvin said it was “irresponsible” of Carter to say this week that to save receiver Josh Gordon the Cleveland Browns should release him.
Carter said being released by Philadelphia is what led him to recovery. Irvin, the former Dallas receiver, said he was angry that Carter advocated that move for Gordon without talking to professionals, counselors and otherwise, who have worked with Gordon.
"Isolation for Cris may have been the best thing," Irvin said. ?Separation for Cris may have been the best thing. For Josh maybe it’s the worst thing."
Gordon is facing a one-year minimum ban from the NFL for failing a drug test this offseason. He was suspended two games and played two without pay in 2013, and last weekend in North Carolina was arrested for suspicion of DWI.
Irvin and Carter are both Hall of Famers who speak from a shared experience of addiction and recovery. Both said they work with players who have problems now. Irvin, though, said he wouldn’t advocate a move like releasing a player without first discussing the player’s issues with a counselor -- something he said he has done.
He said Carter applying his experience to others is "out of line."
"You cannot make a blanket statement and say, 'If it worked for me it’ll work for him.' That’s not necessarily the truth and I thought it was a bit irresponsible."
This is one of three nominations for the most memorable play in team history. The previous two featured were Lou Groza’s kick to win the NFL title in the Browns' first season in the league, and Gary Collins’ post pattern reception in the 1964 NFL Championship Game, the last title in Cleveland history. Please vote for your choice as the Browns’ most memorable play.
Score: Denver 38, Cleveland 33
Date: Jan. 17, 1988 Site: Mile High Stadium
The Drive was a punch into a city’s gut.
But The Fumble ... well that ripped at the heart of a team and a city and a player who had done so much for his team before the fumble occurred.
The Browns made the 1987 AFC Championship Game after falling victim to John Elway and “The Drive” the year prior. Instead of wilting, the Browns bonded and put together another excellent season that saw them head to Denver for the championship game repeat -- with a trip to the Super Bowl on the line.
But the Browns started miserably and fell behind 21-3 at halftime and 28-10 early in the third quarter. Bernie Kosar led a furious comeback as the Browns scored 21 points in the third quarter, with Earnest Byner contributing a 32-yard touchdown catch, a short touchdown run and a 53-yard reception on the drive that tied the game at 31.
But like he did a year earlier, Elway led the Broncos to a touchdown with 4:01 left. Kosar had time, and had the Browns at the Broncos' 8 with 1:12 left. The Browns surprised Denver by handing off to Byner, who rambled around the left end and appeared ready to send the game to overtime by walking into the end zone.
Cleveland celebrated when it saw Byner fall past the goal line, but unknown to many, Denver cornerback Jeremiah Castille had dived at Byner at the 1 and stripped the ball. Castille recovered at the 3.
A distraught city wiped away tears, as did the players who had fought so hard to get back and seemed to have all the momentum going to overtime.
While many scapegoated Byner -- who had 187 total yards in the game -- coach Marty Schottenheimer later explained to NFL Films that receiver Webster Slaughter was supposed to take Castille to the corner of the end zone and block him, but instead cut his route short to watch the play. That put Castille in position to strip the ball from Byner, who went on to have a successful career but will sadly always be remembered at least in part for this one play.
Though it’s tough to choose between Red Right 88 and The Drive and The Fumble and other Keystone Kops plays since 1999, “The Fumble” stands out as the end of an era. Because though the Browns would again make the title game in Denver under Bud Carson, they were never as close as they were with the Kosar-Byner-Mack-Slaughter teams of the mid-to-late ‘80s.
The play’s memory remains as deflating today as it was almost 30 years ago.
The favorite is Peyton Manning at 3-1, followed by Drew Brees at 11-2 and Aaron Rodgers at 15-2. The first seven players with the best odds are all quarterbacks.
Manziel comes in at 100-1, which sounds like a longshot until others with the same odds are considered.
Manziel is listed with the same odds are Cincinnati quarterback Andy Dalton, Houston running back Arian Foster, Green Bay running back Eddie Lacy, Baltimore quarterback Joe Flacco and New England tight end Rob Gronkowski. So Manziel's early odds to win the MVP are the same as the starting quarterbacks for the Ravens and Bengals.
Four players are listed with odds of 150-1, two with 200-1.
Though Manziel was the only rookie listed for MVP, he was not the leader to win the Offensive Rookie of the Year award.
The best odds went to Sammy Watkins, the receiver drafted by the Bills.
He came in at 9-2; Manziel is listed at 6-1.
This is one of three nominations for the most memorable play in team history. Yesterday we featured Lou Groza’s kick to win the NFL title in the Browns' first season in the league, and tomorrow we’ll go over “The Fumble” (enough said). Please vote for your choice as the Browns’ most memorable play.
Score: Cleveland 27, Baltimore 0
Date: Dec. 27, 1964 Site: Cleveland Municipal Stadium
Cleveland Browns were double-digit underdogs to the mighty Baltimore Colts when they hosted the 1964 NFL title game in front of 79,544 at old Municipal Stadium (moment of silence, please). But after playing the Colts to a scoreless tie in the first half, the Browns felt they could win the game.
They started the second half with a field goal from old reliable Lou Groza, who never flinched in making a 43-yard kick in swirling winds in the cavernous old stadium, his eighth field goal in the ’64 playoffs. After forcing a punt, Jim Brown ran twice, the second for 46 yards, to put the ball at the Colts 18-yard line.
On the next play, Ryan dropped back, avoided a rush and hit Gary Collins on his patented post pattern for the touchdown that catapulted the Browns to the title. Groza would kick another field goal, and Ryan and Collins would convert on two more touchdowns as the Browns won 27-0.
There were many standouts in the game. Brown ran for 114 yards. Linebacker Larry Benz made the defensive play of the game, blowing up a screen pass in the first half to Lenny Moore when Benz was the only player capable of making the tackle. Ryan had the three touchdown passes, and Collins had 130 yards and a title-game-record three TDs.
But the post pattern epitomized the Browns of that era -- gritty, hard-working, dependent on the team. It took courage to go over the middle, but Collins made his living there. When he retired in 1971, his 70 TD receptions ranked as the sixth-highest total in NFL history. In 1963, he led the NFL in touchdown passes with 13, a team record that wasn’t broken until 2007 when Braylon Edwards (of all people) broke it. And he played in an era when teams played 14 games.
Collins blocked, and in 1965 led the league in punting with a 46.7-yard average. He was not the fastest, but he was among the toughest and the most dependable. Collins rarely dropped a pass, and when Ryan needed a play, he’d call the old post pattern.
In the last professional championship in Cleveland history of any kind, Collins’ post pattern and catch ignited an inspiring win.
@PatMcManamon Frank Ryan to Gary Collins 3 times in the '64 Championship game. I was 8, and I was there.— Dale Berger (@pilotronics) July 2, 2014
While some cities get players such as Peyton Manning and Andrew Luck, the good people of Cleveland are presented with a trio that could shake any fan right down to his or her Converse.
One is troubled and frequently in trouble. Another broke the city's collective heart, only to be wooed yet again. The third proudly advertises his wealthy 21-year-old lifestyle.
Two are among the most talented to put on the uniform for a Cleveland team ever; another is expected to be. But all three bring head-scratching behavior that has to have fans asking if winning is really worth what it means to do so in Cleveland.
Yes, this is what it is like to be a fan in a city that hasn't seen a championship of any kind in 50 years.
Cleveland waits five decades ... for this?
The events of the past weekend illustrate the situation.
First, Cleveland Browns receiver Josh Gordon is arrested and charged with DWI in North Carolina, yet the latest in a series of off-field incidents that has many questioning his NFL future.
Then, Twitter and the city of Cleveland almost bust their collective guts over the fact that LeBron James might leave the Miami Heat and return to Cleveland to play for the Cavaliers.
Finally, Johnny Manziel is nothing if not consistent; this weekend he was photographed partying away in Las Vegas.
These are the guys Cleveland must turn to.
These are the guys on whom fans place their hopes and dreams.
What in the world of Tim Duncan and David Robinson is going on here?
Gordon is the most talented player the Browns have had since the franchise was revived in 1999. Yet his behavior is everything an athlete's is not supposed to be, replete with failed drug tests, DWI arrests, speeding tickets, falling asleep in a Taco Bell drive-thru and going through two colleges before leaving early for the NFL supplemental draft.
It's crushing for fans to be tantalized by his talent and then see him self-destruct.
James no doubt one day will go on the NBA's Mount Rushmore. But he's also the guy who put the knife so deep into Cleveland's collective back four years ago that few could sit comfortably. People were burning his jersey and making YouTube videos to describe their heartbreak. The sadness and depression were palpable for days.
Now Cleveland faces the possibility of welcoming him back -- as if it's easy to welcome back the guy the owner accused of a "cowardly betrayal."
Finally, there's Johnny Vegas ... err ... PartyBoy ... err ... Football ... err ... Manziel, the guy who is tired of the hype about his partying but keeps getting captured in photos on trips to Las Vegas. It has been an every-weekend thing since he joined the Browns.
Manziel is like the guy who says he doesn't like chocolate but then heads to the store for the extra-large semisweet bunny. He is not breaking the law and is not doing anything wrong, but he sure pushes the envelope on what the team and working-class city should expect from him -- especially if the Browns did indeed tell Manziel to tone it down.
Which means Browns fans have their future hopes based on one guy whose future is in doubt and another whose partying -- fair or not -- has overshadowed his practice habits.
In James and Gordon, fans have one well-behaved guy who once crushed a city's spirit and another whose behavior makes it a possibility he'll do the same.
In James and Manziel, they have one guy who had a local weatherman saying "Godspeed and good riddance" the night he walked away (the weatherman!) and another who, when told to tone it down, ramps it up.
Indianapolis gets Manning and Luck and Tony Dungy and Chuck Pagano; Cleveland has two scoops of Gordon and James, with Manziel on top.
Maybe it's not a dilemma for some. Maybe for some it's a welcome problem. Winning might be worth turning away from values, core principles and beliefs. For some it might be worth rooting for guys who send you to the extra-large Tums.
James does nothing wrong off the court, and he remains an Akron kid and the best player in the NBA today. His talent alone should fill the arena.
But at what cost? On Monday morning, folks at the local coffee shop were shaking their heads asking why he would want to come back and who wants him.
Gordon could make the Browns a contender, assuming he finds some miraculous way to be on the field this season. But Cleveland retched when Ray Lewis and Art Modell shared the Vince Lombardi Trophy after the original Browns bolted for Baltimore; how would it feel to have Gordon holding it?
Fans in Cleveland may take a championship any way they can get it.
The sad thing is, they may have no other choice.
To wake Josh Gordon up and snap him out of his pattern of behavior, the Cleveland Browns have to cut him.
That's the insight from someone who has been there before. Cris Carter is a Hall of Fame receiver who battled addictions to cocaine and alcohol early in his career and was cut by the Philadelphia Eagles.
"It's gut-wrenching for me to say this," Carter said Monday morning on ESPN Radio's "Mike & Mike" show. "I really believe the only thing that's going to help the kid is if they release him."
Gordon's arrest and DWI charge early Saturday morning set off alarms throughout the sports world, with everyone from Baylor coach Art Briles to former Browns linebacker D'Qwell Jackson expressing serious concern for Gordon's well-being.
Nobody, though, was more passionate and pointed than Carter, who was cut by Buddy Ryan in Philadelphia and who spoke on the radio to Mike Golic, one of his former Eagles teammates.
Carter said Gordon's future depends on his realizing what he can lose, and the only way that can happen is if the Browns release him.
"That's the only reality to me," Carter said. "When I got cut, I didn't have a team. I didn't have any teammates. I didn't have a jersey that I could put my name on the back and say I'm a part of this team. I'm a part of the Elks Lodge. I'm a part of the East Side Warriors. I'm a part of Ohio State. I'm a part of the Eagles.
Carter's words were as inspiring as they were passionate. He can state the day he stopped drinking (Sept. 21, 1990) and the number of days he has been alcohol free (8,690). He said he had stopped using cocaine before he was released, but that alcohol masked his larger problems. Ryan told Carter he couldn't be trusted. The emptiness he felt after being released led Carter to get treatment.
Carter said he had great teammates in Philadelphia -- "Do you think I could have more quality friends around me than I had? Don't you think you guys did everything?" he asked Golic -- but that the change had to come from him.
"We're dealing with addiction, man, we're dealing with a disease," Carter said. "If Josh had cancer, we'd put him in a treatment center. And right now that's what we need to do for him.
"But no one wants to do the hard thing. Everyone wants to keep coddling, the same way they did in high school, the same way they did in Baylor ... and eventually it's going to blow up. Now it's blowing up in front of the National Football League, and his career is in jeopardy."
Carter said he'd be glad to help Gordon, and he added that the NFL's Employee Assistance Program is among the country's best.
"This is addiction, man," Carter said. "It's not about help, man. It's about looking inside yourself and realizing that 'I have a problem.' And for him, he just won't admit that."
Whatever happens, Gordon will get another chance to play -- whether it's with the Browns or another team, Carter said, comparing Gordon's talent to Randy Moss.
"I'm not concerned about him playing football ... " Carter said. "I'm concerned when he's 48 like me and he's sitting at his kitchen table like I am right now, can he look himself in the mirror and say, ‘Man, I'm mentally and physically healthy.'"
But Carter added another reality he came to understand: Other talented receivers will come along to take Gordon's place.
Carter's conclusion: "It's up to Josh."
Call me cynical. Maybe I'm na´ve. Perhaps there are some private facts I'm just not aware of. Regardless, I don't understand the current handwringing suggesting that Josh Gordon's NFL career could be over.
Let's be clear: Great players routinely get second and third chances to return to the field after major off-field problems. The Cleveland Browns' Gordon arguably was the league's best receiver in 2013, and assuming he can back away from the police blotter for a while -- and the money at stake usually provides ample motivation, either for the player or those around him -- there is every reason to believe he will resume his career at some point.
This might not be what you want to hear. You know that you're getting fired, and will have a hard time finding work, if you incur multiple arrests connected with your job. The NFL's star system works a bit differently.
While Gordon is undoubtedly in big trouble at the moment, sometimes we forget how many players have turned themselves around -- or, at least, been given multiple chances to do it -- in recent years.
Remember Plaxico Burress? He accidentally shot himself in the leg in 2008 while at a New York nightclub, triggering a two-year jail term. He signed with the New York Jets two months after his June 2010 release.
Donte' Stallworth served jail time for DUI manslaughter in 2009. The NFL reinstated him in time to play with the Baltimore Ravens in 2010. And let's not forget Michael Vick, who is entering his sixth season since a three-year prison sentence in connection with dogfighting charges.
At age 22, Gordon led the NFL in receiving yards last season (1,646) despite a two-game suspension at the start of the season. He did so for a 4-12 team that had no established quarterback and cleaned out its front office and coaching staff after the season. If Stallworth and Burress got back into the NFL, why do we think Gordon would somehow be denied?
I realize there are more pieces to this puzzle. This isn't a simple matter of the NFL reinstating him and a team signing him. History tells us that will happen. The biggest obstacle, and the only part that should cause genuine concern, is whether Gordon can get himself straightened out.
Scores of people with NFL connections are expressing concern about Gordon's path. Indianapolis Colts linebacker D'Qwell Jackson, a teammate in Cleveland, told ESPN.com that "he needs help." ESPN analyst Cris Carter, who overcame drug addiction during his Hall of Fame career, suggested the Browns should release Gordon to give him the shock he needs to turn his behavior around.
To be clear, Gordon's career is in jeopardy only in the sense that he will remain suspended if he keeps getting arrested. Again, I might be cynical, but it seems to me that Gordon's performance last season provides enormous incentive for the people around him -- and perhaps some newcomers as well -- to help in every way imaginable.
When in good negotiating position, the best NFL receivers get contracts that average anywhere from $12 million to $15 million per season. Gordon's agent is Drew Rosenhaus, who also represented Stallworth and Burress and is well-versed in navigating a troubled player's path back to NFL credibility.
We can be dramatic and call for the end of a superstar's career at age 23. We can pound our fists and hammer Gordon for his mistakes. Or we can be realistic and recognize that similar problems have arisen and been quelled often in recent history. Unless and until we learn something more sinister, what we have is a 23-year-old professional athlete with a substance abuse problem. That's hardly an unprecedented problem.
Gordon's troubles seem particularly galling mostly because they are happening right now. If you followed the NFL during Stallworth's arrest or Vick's troubles, you probably remember similarly dire warnings. This isn't to say there haven't been genuine washouts. The tragic story of Chris Henry comes to mind. But history tells us that Josh Gordon will get every chance, and then some, to resume his NFL career.
This is one of three nominations for the most memorable play in Cleveland Browns history. In the next two days, we’ll feature Gary Collins' touchdown reception from Frank Ryan in the 1964 championship game win against Baltimore and "The Fumble"(enough said). Please vote for your choice as the Browns’ most memorable play.
Score: Cleveland 30, Los Angeles 28
Date: Dec. 24, 1950 Site: Cleveland Municipal Stadium
In 1950, the Browns were the object of smirks and derision when they entered the National Football League. Paul Brown’s teams had done well in the All-America Football Conference, but it was, well, the AAFC, not the NFL. Never mind that Brown had perhaps his finest team in 1950 with Hall of Famers all over the field -- including Graham, Marion Motley, Dante Lavelli and Lou "The Toe" Groza. The Browns were not supposed to just walk in and own the league.
But they did just that, going 10-2 and reaching the title game against the Los Angeles Rams, who coincidentally started as the Cleveland Rams before moving West in 1945 (the AAFC started play in '46). Playing in hallowed old Municipal Stadium (moment of silence, please), the Browns were down eight heading into the fourth quarter, but Graham threw a touchdown pass and Groza made the extra point to cut the deficit to one. Graham moved the ball inside the Rams’ 30 but fumbled with minutes left -- a turnover that seemed to doom the Browns.
Graham did not give up. The Browns got the ball back and moved to the 9, where Groza -- perhaps the greatest straight-on kicker in NFL history -- started a Cleveland celebration by making the 16-yard kick with less than 28 seconds left. Fans stormed the field and carried the goalposts out of the stadium. Even Brown was emotional, with tears in his eyes as he discussed the win.
In 1950, at least there was justice -- the Browns won the NFL title in their first year in the league by beating the team that had abandoned Cleveland five years before.
And Groza was the guy who provided the winning points.
@PatMcManamon One of the all-time best Browns player in his career defining kick. It's a memorable moment that crosses generations.— Anthony Y (@hunkura) July 2, 2014
Gordon allegedly had a blood-alcohol count of .09, which would be over the legal limit of .08. It marked a continuing pattern of behavior that has drawn attention from players, fans and the Browns organization.
Gordon faces a minimum one-year ban for failing an offseason drug test. He has been pulled over twice this offseason, once with marijuana in the car and the second time for the DWI. He was suspended two games a year ago and played two without pay. He also did not last at two different colleges.
The general theme from those players who voiced their opinions about Gordon were strong: Don’t criticize Gordon; instead put the focus on helping him.
One teammate was angry at the public bashing Gordon has received. As of Saturday evening his name had appeared in more than 45,000 tweets, most of them critical and negative.
Browns defensive tackle Phil Taylor posted this Sunday morning:
These so called fans talking trash about my teammate are childish. You don't know him or what he's going through. Try helping him instead!— Phil Taylor (@PhilTaylor98) July 5, 2014
This from former teammate D’Qwell Jackson, now with the Colts, drew a lot of attention:
If you're close to Josh Gordon please help this kid, it's not about football anymore it's about picking up the pieces of his life.— D'Qwell Jackson (@DQ52) July 5, 2014
Jaguars receiver Cecil Shorts:
Instead of attacking Josh Gordon, pray for him! It's crazy to me how we judge people when we all are battling with our own faults and issues— Cecil Shorts (@CecilShortsIII) July 5, 2014
From former NFL linebacker Keith Bulluck:
Everybody wanna talk about Josh Gordon but no ones trying to help smh...the cycle continues— Keith Bulluck (@KBull53) July 5, 2014
Finally, Ben Watson, former Browns and current Saints tight end, and a member of the NFL Players Association Executive Committee, said this:
I understand the disappointment but publicly calling Josh Gordon, a waste of talent/potential etc serves no positive purpose at this point.— Benjamin Watson (@BenjaminSWatson) July 5, 2014
He's clearly a troubled man who needs help. But his life is worth more than the balls he can catch and how fast he can run.— Benjamin Watson (@BenjaminSWatson) July 5, 2014
I don't believe anyone is unsaveable. The question is will we give them the support and tough love they need before just writing them off.— Benjamin Watson (@BenjaminSWatson) July 5, 2014
Thomas is a convicted felon who is serving a suspended sentence on gun and drug charges in Durham, N.C. He also is the gentleman who rented the many cars driven by former North Carolina basketball player P.J. Hairston; those “extra benefit” rentals eventually led to Hairston being dismissed by the Tar Heels.
A brief internet search reveals all kinds of information on Thomas, who is close enough to Gordon to post his bond:
- The Raleigh News and Observer reports that Thomas has three corporations under different names in North Carolina. One of them is with Spencer B. Howard, a UNC graduate and dentist. That company is Kairobi Exotic Rentals and Transport, Inc., a car rental company in the suite next to Howard’s oral surgery center.
- When Hairston and two others were arrested in June for misdemeanor marijuana possession, Thomas told USA Today he rented the car Hairston drove, and let Hairston drive it. Thomas said he got it from Hertz and paid $1,261 for three days.
- The police report said the car had 43.2 grams of pot, a 9mm handgun, and a magazine with nine rounds of ammunition. Thomas said none of it was his.
- In November Thomas was sentenced for possession and intent to sell a controlled substance (12 grams of marijuana), maintaining a dwelling used for keeping or selling a controlled substance, and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon. He received a three-year suspended prison term in lieu of probation.
- Thomas originally was convicted in 2006 to a felony charge of accessing computers to create counterfeit checks to obtain property and services worth more than $1,000. Thomas also tried use a stolen MasterCard.
Former Cleveland Browns linebacker D'Qwell Jackson might have said it best.
Shortly after news broke that former teammate Josh Gordon had been arrested for DWI in Raleigh, North Carolina, early Saturday morning, Jackson posted the following on Twitter:
If you're close to Josh Gordon please help this kid, it's not about football anymore it's about picking up the pieces of his life.— D'Qwell Jackson (@DQ52) July 5, 2014
Clearly there are some issues with Gordon that have yet to be resolved, issues that very well could derail, what after two seasons had the makings of a potential Hall of Fame career.
Instead of discussing Gordon as one of the greatest receivers ever, he could wind up as the story of the guy who destroyed his own future.
The latest 2014 offseason incident occurred when Gordon was pulled over at 3 a.m. for speeding, then arrested for driving while impaired. Why he was in Raleigh is anyone’s guess. Earlier in the week, Gordon had posted on his Instagram account that he had to get out of Miami.
This arrest follows an arrest in May when he was pulled over for speeding and a passenger had marijuana with him, and a report during the draft that Gordon faced a minimum one-year ban for failing a drug test. That follows a four-game suspension last season, reduced to two and two without pay. That follows his failed drug tests at Baylor and Utah that led to him declaring for the supplemental draft in 2012.
His looming one-year ban is being appealed, with a hearing set for late July, according to Pro Football Talk.
But given all that’s happened this offseason, expecting any sympathy from the league would be foolish. He clearly has problems, but he has done what he’s done knowing the consequence of his actions.
His actions since his positive test convey little attention to his reality. It almost seems as though he knows he’s not going to win on appeal, so he’ll do whatever he wants to do.
And it doesn’t seem as though he cares how it affects his team or his teammates. He says it does, but the old phrase about actions being louder than words comes to mind.
The Browns know what his loss will do to the offense, and the loss will be immense. It will hurt the offense and the quarterbacks, and it will slow the development of rookie quarterback Johnny Manziel.
Losing a playmaker does that.
Losing a playmaker of the magnitude of Gordon does that in significant ways.
Whether Gordon has a problem, is defiant, is associating with the wrong people or is an addict is for him to determine and, with the appropriate help, come to grips with.
Players have overcome addictions and become excellent players. Former receiver Irving Fryar went from being a serious addict to an inspiration on and off the field.
The problem, though, is that Gordon is showing no signs whatsoever of taking any step in that direction.
And while he avoids doing so, he hurts himself and also hurts the people most trying to support him.
And whether the Cleveland Browns quarterback gets it.
Whether Manziel is simply enjoying the benefits of fame and youth or simply can’t stay out of his own way is debatable.
There is nothing troubling or offensive about the photos beyond Manziel posing in them with Bieber, a walking instruction guide for how not to handle fame. And the pictures were taken at a time when players are off until the start of start of training camp.
They actually offer a perfect snapshot of what Johnny Football said last week at an NFL Play 60 youth clinic at the Browns’ facility.
“I want to wake up with a week and not have my name going through something,” Manziel said. “And I’m working on getting better at that, but if I want to go back home and spend time with my friends or go out and enjoy my weekends, I absolutely have the right to do that.”
Manziel is absolutely correct on that point, but he also seems to be missing the bigger point every time he sends social media into a frenzy. He has yet to throw a pass in the NFL, yet his fame eclipses that of all the players in the Browns' locker room combined.
That was going to be the reality anyway when the Browns drafted the former Heisman Trophy winner in May. But the perception, fair or not, is that Manziel has done everything but try to lower his profile since joining the Browns.
That can’t play well with his new teammates, particularly the veterans whose trust Manziel must win by showing he is committed to football and acting like a rookie whenever possible. And it only sets up Manziel for a bigger fall if becomes the latest in a line of Cleveland quarterback who can’t cut it in the NFL.
It might be time to book a spot on the Johnny Manziel Advice Bandwagon.
Seats are filling up quickly. Heck, in the back, folks are leaning out the windows.
Those who wait lose their chance to offer life advice to a guy who is either (A) bacchanalian when it comes to being a party animal, or (B) just having a good time. The insight all depends on who is dispensing judgment.
It’s a bit odd that any judgment is being dispensed in the first place.
Manziel is a 21-year-old born into wealth who was the darling of college football for his play on the field and his celebrity off. Now that he is in the pros and doing the same things, everyone from Emmitt Smith to Vladimir Putin seems willing to offer advice.
The prevailing thinking is that Manziel is overdoing it off the field. In Smith’s words, he is doing things that shorten a career.
Brady Quinn went further (Brady Quinn?), saying Manziel was presenting an image that could not make Browns owner Jimmy Haslam happy.
Joe Montana dropped a Bill Walsh reference on Manziel.
And teammate Joe Haden advised that Manziel get a “phone valet” so people would stop taking his photos.
The advice also has been earned, because Manziel is nothing if not consistent. Every weekend he appears somewhere with someone with some sort of bottle or beverage in his hand. The most disappointing -- and potentially troubling -- was Manziel using a profanity while holding what is called a “money phone” (a stack of cash), saying he couldn't hear people because he had so much you-know-what money in his hand. He referred to that video as "far in the past" on Friday, but he did not elaborate.
It might have been intended to be fun and part of the culture Manziel seems to enjoy, but it almost came across as taunting. Whether it was recorded in the last few weeks or years remains a mystery.
The tired, old excuses have all come out. Manziel is 21. He’s not breaking the law. Leave him alone. It’s only because there are cameras that we know about his partying.
Which all might be true.
But Manziel himself admits he knows he is going to be photographed wherever he goes. He does this stuff anyway.
Manziel will learn quickly -- if he hasn't already -- that he is responsible for his own actions, and there is nothing difficult about acting with class. Perhaps that will come with maturity.
But who knows?
Maybe Manziel enjoys this image he projects; he sure doesn't hide from it.
Maybe we are seeing the new-wave athlete, the legion of guys who rent nightclubs to throw birthday parties for themselves.
A lot of guys party, but it is hidden from public view, or at least hidden to the extent that it is not regular viewing like Manziel’s.
Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers, who is being photographed more now that he is dating actress Olivia Munn, said he thought Manziel was doing nothing wrong.
This is life with Johnny, and the Browns had to understand this would be part of drafting him.
But there is much we really don't know about Manziel at this point.
We don't know what kind of NFL player he will become. If he is a lifetime backup, the partying will wear out its welcome.
We don’t know if he’s surrounded by loyal friends or by enablers.
We don’t know if this lifestyle of his is purely an offseason thing that might stop when training camp starts. If Manziel can keep up this pace during the rigors of a training camp, it's time to see if he is bionic.
We also don't know how he will handle himself during the season, with curfews and the physical challenge of 16 weeks, plus a training camp and taking care of himself, all on his plate.
Finally, we don’t know if Manziel is one of those rare guys who can succeed with off-the-field revelry. It worked for Joe Namath and Bobby Layne.
The money phone thing might have looked distasteful, especially in a blue-collar town like Cleveland. But whether it matters in the long run is yet to be seen.
Manziel is an adult capable of making adult decisions. He might shock the world and make some wrong ones. Sometimes people do inexplicable things; witness “Dancing With the Stars.”
But we don't know how he will approach his job, or how he approaches it when he is not on the party scene. It’s a lot less interesting to photograph a guy lifting weights in the offseason than it is to photograph him at a party.
What we do know about Manziel in his short time as a Cleveland Brown is that everything is over the top, whether it’s being drafted by MLB or partying or advice dispensed to him or taking a snap at a rookie minicamp.
The start of training camp might bring a refreshing new world to Manziel mania. It might be all about football, without the revelry.
Because at that point, it will be about one simple reality: Can Manziel play in the NFL?
That challenge was a Grade 4 brain tumor caused by an aggressive form of cancer, a tumor Wiedmeier learned of when he had a seizure at the team's facility.
In the story that followed, Wiedmeier talked about attacking the challenges, prioritizing, taking things one day at a time. He spoke in ways that touched anyone who read or heard the words. The normally reserved gentleman in the Browns front office shared his story so that others could gain something positive from it. It was impossible not to be inspired by his attitude and approach.
Wednesday, the Browns made an announcement that brought a smile to the face of anyone who knows Wiedmeier, as fine, honest and true a man as the NFL has known.
The Browns announced that Wiedmeier had signed a contract extension. The length was not disclosed, but the good news was that the Browns would continue to have him in the administration, and he was still a vital part of the team.
"There are a select number of people who are successful enough in this league to establish 30-year careers, and even fewer who do it with the amount of class, respect and kindness Bryan does each day," Browns president Alec Scheiner said in the statement released by the team.
Wiedmeier has never asked for sympathy, never done anything but smile as he fought his way through surgery and chemotherapy. He has conducted himself with the same grace and class he shows every day, and probably would prefer he not be any focus of attention.
Most front office contract extensions are not announced, especially with those on the business end. They happen quietly, behind the scenes.
In this case, the Browns announcing the news had to bring a smile to many in and out of the NFL, all grateful that the Browns still have the services of this fine man.