Two years after drafting him in the first round, the Cleveland Browns on Friday cut Johnny Manziel in the wake of problems both on and off the field.
The first freshman to win the Heisman Trophy, Manziel was a colorful and record-breaking quarterback at Texas A&M, nicknamed Johnny Football. Drafted No. 22 overall by the Browns, he was welcomed as a savior in Cleveland, where losing is a longtime habit, but soon began making headlines of the wrong kind.
Manziel’s penchant for partying, often caught on videotape, did not endear him to management or most fans, and his play on the field, when he got there, did not make up for it.
In January, the police in Fort Worth used a helicopter to search for Manziel after a woman said she was worried after they had an altercation. In October, near Cleveland, Manziel was spotted fighting with a woman as they drove. He admitted to having drunk alcohol earlier in the day.
Manziel spent two months in a rehab facility for undisclosed reasons last winter.
It was not a surprise that he was cut, especially after Sashi Brown, the team’s executive vice president for football operations, blasted him in February, saying, “Johnny’s continual involvement in incidents” that run counter to team expectations “undermines the hard work of his teammates and the reputation of our organization.”
His playing time in his two seasons was limited. The backup to Brian Hoyer in his rookie season, he started twice. Last season, he was the backup to Josh McCown and started six games. His career record is 2-6.
At 23, he has time to establish an NFL career, but it remains to be seen if any team decides to take a chance on him.
At least some commentators were not seeing it: “Johnny Manziel goes on waivers now, which means anyone has the chance to sign him and pick up his contract. Not expecting anyone will,” said Ian Rapoport, a commentator for the NFL Network.
On the other hand, in an interview in GQ, Aggie Von Miller said recently, “I still feel like he has a lot of game left in him,” and added: “I don’t think he had enough support around him. Who knows. You might see Johnny Manziel in Denver.”
There is at least one other high-profile Manziel supporter. On the night that Manziel was drafted in 2014, going lower than expected, Donald Trump tweeted: “Teams are making a big mistake not taking Johnny Manziel — he is going to be really good (and exciting to watch).”