Who’s Johnny, The Next 30 For 30?

I’m going to go ahead and comment on it, even though I feel like I’m wading into a hurricane with a kiddie raft.  I have been watching the drama unfold in Cleveland, Las Vegas, Texas and who knows where else for far too long to keep my mouth shut any longer: someone has to stop the Johnny Manziel downward spiral.

So let’s run this down with some highlights, er lowlights, and see what I’m talking about.

May 8th 2014 – Manziel is drafted by the Browns as the 22nd pick of NFL Draft.  Browns owner Jimmy Haslam said that a homeless guy convinced him to draft Manziel on the way to the draft.  Seems legit.

May 24 2014 – Johnny goes to Vegas instead of focusing on football.  This comes just after questions of his work ethic and character were brought up in the draft process.

June 6, 2014 – Manziel is pictured floating around in a pool on a giant swan focusing on a bottle rather than a football.  Apparently there is a playbook stuck to the bottom of the pool.

July 4, 2014 – Manziel is in Vegas where he was caught on camera with something that looks a lot like drugs.  I do not believe he was working on football here either.

August 18, 2014 – Manziel gives the Redskins the bird in a nationally televised event.  Stay classy.

November 22, 2014 – Manziel gets into a fight in a hotel in Cleveland with a fan and members of his entourage.  It almost feels like it had been too long since he did something, didn’t it?

December 23, 2014 – Manziel gets hurt and says he has to change in order to be successful.  You think?

December 26, 2014 – Change is short.  He throws a party and is late for treatment on his hamstring, although he is quick to deny there is a party.

January 3, 2015 – Flips off some fans at a club in Houston who end up taking it differently than Manziel expected.  They drench him in their drinks.  Cheers!

January 28, 2015 – Manziel decides that this time it’s really about change and goes to rehab.

April 11, 2015 – Manziel comes out of rehab a changed man.

April 17, 2015 – Manziel issues an apology to Cleveland, the fans, his teammates, the world, the universe and whoever else wants to listen. Everyone believes in the change.

June 17, 2015 – “Money” Manziel is gone.  No more?  Say it ain’t so Johnny.  Maybe the change is real?

October 12, 2015 – Manziel and his girlfriend have an argument after drinking.  The police are called because Manziel was driving like an ass and acting like an ass so his girlfriend tried to exit the vehicle while he was still driving.  It’s now beginning to get dark.  Jokes are now done.

October 25, 2015 – The NFL finally decides to investigate Manziel for domestic abuse.  I mean it only happened almost two weeks ago!?!

November 23, 2015 – More partying and there is video evidence of Manziel drinking and singing.  Instead of focusing on himself and/or football during Cleveland’s bye week he spent it on the one thing that is causing him to spiral out of control.

January 1, 2016 – Manziel spotted in Las Vegas at a casino when he was supposed to be going the following day to Cleveland to the team’s training facility for league mandated concussion protocol.  It had been reported in various sources he showed signs of a hangover in practice earlier in the week.

January 30, 2016 – Manziel is alleged to have assaulted his ex-girlfriend, Colleen Crowley.  Crowley has filed an affidavit of protection from Manziel because he struck her so hard he ruptured her eardrum.

According to ESPN.com:

“The affidavit states that Manziel dragged Crowley down some back steps to the hotel exit. As they passed a valet, Crowley states she pleaded with a valet as the pair left, saying: “Please don’t let him take me. I’m scared for my life!” The valet responded that he didn’t know what to do.

Manziel took her to Crowley’s car, where she states she got in the car’s passenger seat “against my will.” As he was backing up, she jumped out, ran across the street and hid in some bushes.

Manziel made a U-turn to where she was, grabbed her by her hair and threw her in the car.

“He hit me with his open hand on my left ear for jumping out of the car,” the affidavit states. “I realized immediately that I could not hear out of that ear, and I cannot today [Feb. 3, the date of the filing].”

Crowley writes that the argument continued on the way to her apartment and in the apartment itself.

“I continue to be extremely concerned for my health and well-being,” she wrote.

The judge issued the protective order Feb. 4, the day after Crowley’s filing.”

The Cleveland Browns organization has been hiding Manziel’s real problems for years because of the promise of talent.  With the partying it seems concerning that he isn’t taking care of himself and has some issues that he may be covering up.  Now that he has struck someone else it scares me to think about what else he might do when he is drinking.

And don’t get me started about Deion Sanders and his insinuation that Manziel’s ex-girlfriend is the reason for all the problems.  Sure, blame the victim of a ruptured eardrum and domestic abuse.  Go ahead.  Let’s not solve the problem.  Why does anyone even ask someone who clearly has no clue?

If you’ve never read the story of Derek Boogaard Boy on Ice by John Branch, it’s time to pick it up.  Branch examine’s Boogaard’s rise through the hockey ranks all the way up to the NHL all while battling his addictions: first with booze and then with painkillers and opioids.  Boogaard never got the publicity or was never the figure that Manziel is however his addictions remind me of Manziel’s.  Boogaard went to rehab multiple times and each time he came out he said he was going to be better and he was going to change but the only way he was going to change was if he was allowed to change and his team(s) never did that.

The Browns never made Johnny change.  They covered for him and you can bet the NFL did whatever it could.  The Wild kept finding ways to get Boogaard what he needed.  The NHL would do whatever they could.  Meanwhile both Manziel and Boogaard struggled with their addiction because they were stuck in the same spiral that only was/is getting longer, deeper and darker.  Boogaard’s spiral ended in a tragedy and now that we see Manziel at this junction it scares me to think that he’s teetering on something that’s going to end in the same place.

The Browns are saying they don’t want him, his agent doesn’t want him, the NFL might be saying the same soon, his ex-girlfriend filed a protection order, his family is pushing back and who knows what other people are pushing back against him.  I can only imagine that Johnny is fragile and there must be a million things running through his head.  If he truly is spiraling, this is the time to get help, I just wonder if he will get it?  Or five/ten/fifteen years from now will we be watching this on ESPN as a 30 For 30?

Boy I Love Losing Super bowls

Recently I saw an advertisement for ESPN’s 30 for 30 “Four Falls of Buffalo.”  30 for 30 films are the greatest sports documentaries I’ve ever seen.  They cover every sport, they draw you in and whether you think you care about the topic or not, you find yourself watching the whole thing. However, this one was about everything for me.  It was about a team that most outside of New York State could care less about (mostly the far Western side of the state) and a team that was labeled the “loveable losers” for the years they went to “back-to-back-to-back-to-back” Super Bowls.  I know Drake wrote “Back to Back” but let’s see him do “Back to Back to Back to Back!”

I’ve been a Bills fan for as long as I can remember.  Well, for as long as I’ve been a professional football fan.  Growing up in the South there was not a lot of love for the Atlanta Falcons at the time, they were horrible and my team was the University of Tennessee Volunteers.  The Big Orange.  Southeastern Tennessee was close to Knoxville and my neighbor was a huge Vol fan. For all I knew he probably was a booster but he bled Orange and decked me out in Orange and turned on the radio on Saturdays so I could hear all about the Volunteer Navy and Smokey.  Yes, I know the words to Rocky Top, I have been to Vols games and I’m not sure that color Orange is right for everyone.  But I digress.

I got into card collecting as I got older and we moved around the South.  I starting looking for baseball and basketball cards everywhere I could find them.  Gas stations used to carry them, grocery stores had them with the candy bars and I used to visit a sports card shop or two when I could.   My father, being a Hokie, wasn’t too thrilled about my Volunteer Orange hanging in the closet.  So when he had the chance he took me to Blacksburg and started introducing me to Virginia Tech football.

Picking through a box of cards I found a stack of football cards, which I had never been collecting before, but my dad had been.  I didn’t know any of the players but I stumbled upon some guy who was a rookie and when I flipped it over it said he was from Norfolk and he went to Virginia Tech. So I started asking my dad about him.  After that, I made my mind up that I was going to be a Bills fan.

I’ve been a Bills fan through the greatest team ever era; that included my heroes: Bruce Smith, Andre Reed and Darryl Talley just to name a few. We navigating around Todd Collins long enough to realize that we miss Jim Kelly. Past the forgettable Rob Johnson vs. Doug Flutie debate that Wade Phillips had. Flutie clearly was the better starter from where I sat. Oh and here’s where it all starts to get murky. Are you ready? Alex Van Pelt, J.P. Losman, Drew Bledsoe, Kelly Holcomb, Trent Edwards, Ryan Fitzpatrick, E.J. Manuel, Jeff Tuel, Thad Lewis, Kyle Orton, Matt Cassel and finally current starter Tyrod Taylor.  The Tyrod Taylor that I was thrilled to find they signed, only because I was ready to give up after the signing of Rex Ryan.

Yes I said give up.

“But you can’t be a true fan,” some might say.

Or “give up just because of the coach?”

Buffalo could have signed anyone and truly, I mean ANYONE.  I don’t mean to scream, but maybe I do.   I saw how the Jets were under his leadership and I wasn’t impressed.  For a team that was supposed to have a great defensive mind, the Bills never seemed to have too much trouble getting past them last year.  I didn’t want him to come in and wreck what was a great Bills ‘D.’

But it’s been wrecked.  Jim Schwartz was let go from his defensive coordinator spot and Ryan has put himself in place as head of the defense. Thru 13 games this year the defensive stats aren’t pretty.  358.8 average ypg (20), 3,300 total yards given up (20), 253.8 passing ypg (22), 104.9 rushing ypg (14). Last year’s defense ranked 4th in total ypg, 3rd in total passing yards given up and 11th in rushing yards given up. 124 penalties were amassed over a full season, through 13 games there have been 109 this season. If I were a betting man I’d say that stat will go up, way up.

The defense that was lean and mean is now sloppy and punch drunk.  They are boisterous and complain about penalties, like Rex Ryan did after the Eagles game just recently when he followed the officials off the field running his mouth all the way.  He ran his mouth to the New York media week in and week out last year becoming one of the favorite mouthpieces to get a quote.  This year he’s wanted nothing more than provide quotes about Bill Belichick and the New England Patriots wanting to give the newspapers enough words to fill half a page only to lose both games.  I can’t believe he hasn’t learned his lesson by now and I can’t believe Doug Whaley hasn’t reined him in by now.  It feels to me his hiring was for publicity to sell some tickets or to move some shirts.  I hope management is happy.  They went from a potential playoff team to a “not gonna make the playoffs” team.

Funny, I could stick by a team that busted its ass and tried it’s hardest to win a game with a coach that was clueless but at least he wasn’t out there blaming the refs every week and burying his head in the sand.  Chan Gailey wasn’t the best coach the Bills ever had but I would gladly have him back, at least he didn’t run his mouth about the Patriots before the Bills played them.  Even for all his faults Doug Marrone did a better job of giving me a warm and fuzzy feeling.  Alright, no.  Let’s say he gave me a lukewarm feeling.  But damn, at least I didn’t feel like secretly he wanted to coach for Bill Belichick like Rex.  Anymore I think it’s Rex’s secret desire to coach for Belichick that’s why he talks about him so much.  As Drake says “Jealousy is just love and hate at the same time.”

I haven’t fully given up on the Bills.  I threatened to go out in the yard and burn everything Buffalo I owned.  I was mad and out of control.  I’ve come this far, I’ve gone through all those years with all those years of missed playoffs and terrible play.  I wasn’t expecting the team to compete for a Super Bowl.  I wasn’t expecting anything major.  Of course, outside of Buffalo no one really knows much about the team anyway.