It is plainly evident now that erstwhile Cleveland Browns playboy Johnny Manziel intends to make a comeback to the football world, presumably the NFL. We know this because when some reporters in Dallas caught up to Manziel following a court hearing over his misdemeanor assault case, Manziel told them, “I want to play football.”
This is not quite breaking news. Manziel recently has offered other indications he hoped to resume his NFL career, which has been nonexistent since the Browns released him a year ago next month. But Manziel on Tuesday was scolded by his judge for blowing a deadline to update the court on his progress.
That being the case, is there any reason to think Manziel is actually on the verge of a comeback?
There isn’t anything in Manziel’s NFL statistics to suggest he’s worth much risk. He’s a 57 percent passer with as many interceptions as touchdown passes, and a little more than 500 rushing yards. But stats aren’t everything. Manziel is still only 24 years old, and by all accounts he was in the depths of addiction during that time. Assuming he’s sober and can stay that way, and assuming his unique set of skills was going to translate to the NFL in the first place, you can imagine his talent and competitiveness winning him a second chance to make a first impression in the NFL.
Those are a couple of big assumptions, but keep in mind, too, that the court hearing that brought Manziel into the light for a day is part of an agreement designed in part to make him live up to promises to get his life together. A check-in with a judge every now and then is a lot nicer than jail, but it’s not nothing, either. He’s got to stay clean, he’s got to stay out of trouble, and he’s got to stay on top of things.
Which he recently failed to do.
Judge Roberto Cañas on Tuesday told Manziel that he is worried the quarterback isn’t taking his conditional agreement seriously because he missed a deadline to update the court about his progress.
Last year, Manziel was charged with misdemeanor assault after his ex-girlfriend said he kidnapped, beat and threatened to kill her during a fight that left her with a ruptured eardrum. Manziel and the district attorney reached an agreement to drop the charges under the condition Manziel complete anger management and substance abuse treatment, attend a domestic violence victim’s panel, and generally keep his nose clean.
The judge on Tuesday warned Manziel that if he didn’t straighten up, he’d send him right to trial, and you never know what’s gonna happen at trial.
“If you decide not to follow the terms of the conditional dismissal, then basically what you’re saying to me is that you either want me to make a decision about your life, or you want six people whom you’ve never met to make a decision about your life,” the judge said.
Manziel then told the judge he realized his fate was in his own hands, and said his life was, “trending upward.”
It is not surprising Manziel would come off well in court. He’s never found it difficult to own up to his mistakes. He’s always been able to step in front of the cameras, look appropriately solemn, and softly confess to letting himself down and everyone else. But there has always been the question of whether Manziel really believed he needed to do anything differently.
This agreement he has with the DA in Dallas is an opportunity for him to show he is taking this seriously, to show he can follow the rules, get out of bed on time, take care of his responsibilities. That’s all it is, but it’s something, and if he’s having trouble with that, it’s probably safe to say he’s still a few steps away from leading an NFL franchise.