There was a time, before things really got dark for Johnny Manziel, that he struck me as something more like Dennis the Menace than any sort of real threat. He annoyed a certain kind of person, which is always amusing, and whether on or off the field, you could tell he liked to live right up on the border between chaos and brilliance.
Manziel’s play seemed to be an artistic representation of who he was. If anybody else tried the stuff he tried, they’d have been on the bench by halftime of the first game, and yet somehow Johnny Football always seemed to pull it off.
We now know Johnny Football was something darker than it seemed at the time. It was the alter ego of an addict who suffers from bi-polar disorder — a mechanism that enabled the chaos.
Our maybe I’m full of crap.
Either way, the only Johnny Manziel we’ve ever seen play has been a guy whose life was in utter chaos. I’m rooting for Manziel to make it back to the NFL, even if only for a little while, because I want to find out what a clean and sober and properly treated Johnny Football looks like on the field. My expectation is that it would look incredible. You would have the same athlete with the same instincts and the same cocksure swagger, but he’d be well rested, clear-headed, and wiser.
There is a lot of space between that and where Manziel is now. He’s still just 25, but he hasn’t played in a football game since 2015. He’ll play this year in The Spring League, a scouting event players pay to participate in, and he’ll have a lot to prove. Is he responsible? Trustworthy? Is he even in shape?
Then there’s the matter of his domestic violence case.
The bi-polar diagnosis Manziel revealed on Good Morning America was news, but the rest of it we’ve heard from Manziel before. How he’s learned from his mistakes and he’s getting clean and focusing on football.
Johnny Manziel has tamed himself, he says. Let’s hope we get to see what that looks like.