By Matthew Ajaj
Johnny Manziel, once the star quarterback of the Texas A&M Aggies and winner of the 2012 Heisman Trophy, appears to have hit rock bottom after he allegedly physically abused his girlfriend and threatened to kill himself, according to Dallas’s ABC affiliate.
Manziel was born to a wealthy Texas family in 1992 and as far as any member of the media knows, his life only continued to get better for the next two decades. A multi-sport high school superstar, Manziel cemented himself as a local legend and was bestowed the “Johnny Football” moniker.
Athletic, handsome, rich and heading for national stardom, Manziel had every reason to be confident. He was beloved by fans, popular with the ladies and admired by young men for living out every guy’s dream. Toting a Heisman Trophy in his hand and holding the words of sports media’s lofty praise in his head, Manziel waltzed his way into the National Football League (NFL) and promptly took a place on his pedestal to wait for success to come to him.
It didn’t. Drafted by the Cleveland Browns with the 22nd overall pick in 2014, Manziel flopped in his rookie season, failing to win the starting job and facing questions about his work ethic. After a surprising stint in rehabilitation for alcoholism, Manziel’s 2015 was plagued by off-field incidents, from his amount of partying and fighting with his girlfriend to missing a check-in with a team medic.
Now under investigation for domestic assault for the incident on Wednesday, Jan. 30, in which he allegedly appeared to be under the influence of drugs and acted without concern for the welfare of others or himself, it seems as if Johnny Football’s football career is over. Two failed seasons, off-field transgressions, substance abuse and emotional instability do not exactly scream “NFL material.”
It is difficult to deny that Manziel worked very hard to have success in both high school and college, but it is all too apparent that his efforts and concentration waned in making the transition to the NFL. He was a kid that had never hit a bump in the road, speeding down the highway of life scoring touchdowns, trophies and girls’ numbers. Even his reckless run-and-gun, impulsive play style resembled that of a child without restraints. In college, he was charged with a few misdemeanors and allegedly received money for signing autographs, but these mishaps were met with little to no punishment from neither law enforcement nor Texas A&M.
Manziel never faced any real discipline until reaching football’s highest stage and by then, he had become so accustomed to being the king of college that he was unwilling to act like a subject of the NFL’s domain. Successful and unhindered in whatever he did, Manziel was not used to dealing with the failures and punishments that he has experienced these past couple years. He was incapable of handling such imperfections and constraints and this shock to his system has sent him on a downward spiral.
I was never a fan of Manziel. He was always too cocky — too sure of himself and everything that he did. Perhaps there was even a hint of jealousy in my criticism.
But now, part of me feels sorry for him. Left unbound for his entire life, the boy-king has turned down the route of substance abuse and suicidal thoughts. Combined with his lack of concern for consequences, these symptoms seem to resemble some sort of psychological disorder — Manziel twice refused to enter a rehab facility last week, according to Dallas’s ABC station.
The Dallas Morning News consulted the player’s father, Paul Manziel, who provided a chilling statement: “I truly believe if they can’t get him help, he won’t live to see his 24th birthday.”
It is a disturbing message in itself, but perhaps equally concerning is the elder Manziel’s usage of the word “they.” With Manziel’s agent, girlfriend and now even his father unable, or perhaps just unwilling, to help him, along with his refusal to enter rehab, it seems as if Manziel’s life will continue to snowball downhill from here.
There is no more dodging a flurry of oncoming defenders, no more chucking a pass into a crowd without suffering an interception — the turnovers have caught up to Manziel. He may have his personality flaws and troubles with the law, but Manziel’s actions still resemble those of a child who is out of touch with reality.
This is no longer a Johnny Football problem — this is a life-threatening Johnny Manziel issue. He and anyone that is left out there who still cares about him must somehow help him figure out his life before it’s all over.