Saturday, 17 October 2015

Jones: Can the Browns really afford to trust Johnny Manziel any longer?

For months, Johnny Manziel has asked his teammates and coaches with the Cleveland Browns— and, by extension, the rest of us — to judge him by his actions.
He would show us all he had changed, he said, that he was more responsible and more mature. Ten weeks in an in-patient rehab facility this offseason was supposedly making him a better man, which in turn would also make him a better football player.
So what should we judge him on now? The Avon, Ohio, police report following an incident in which Manziel was pulled over for speeding — in which officers wrote that both he and his girlfriend had been drinking prior to an argument that turned physical? Or Manziel’s statements posted on his Twitter account late Friday that he was “sober” and “everything was alright”?
The Browns may wind up looking like fools if they choose to believe Manziel’s words again. He may have spent the past seven months trying to repair his image, but this is the sort of incident that will make any credibility or goodwill he’s established with the team and public vanish.
No, he was not arrested (authorities on the scene of Monday's incident determined that he was not drunk), but the details in the police report are troubling. Manziel's latest episode involved alcohol, driving and domestic violence —  and each is a hot button issues across the NFL, even more so for a player with Johnny Football's history for poor decisions.
It’s no wonder now why the Browns were so eager to give the starting quarterback job back to veteran Josh McCown last month as soon as he was cleared to play after a concussion. The team issued a statement from general manager Ray Farmer late Friday, in which the team said it was “aware of the situation" pertaining to Manziel.
“It is a matter that we take seriously and have expressed our concerns to Johnny directly. Those conversations will remain private and we will refrain from further comment at this time,” Farmer said.
Manziel has never detailed the circumstances behind his stay in rehab, though he readily admitted he needed to make changes in his life after a rookie year that was derailed by off-field drama and excessive partying.
This latest incident, and what it reveals about Manziel’s commitment to his recovery, seems to put his football future in jeopardy.

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