Johnny Manziel and the Moral Turpitude of Sports Writers

Johnny Manziel, for those who don’t follow American sports teams, is a quarterback for the National Football League’s Cleveland Browns. Well, he is until March 2016 when the Browns will almost certainly cut him from the team.

Manziel achieved a great deal of fame in 2012 when, as a freshman, he broke a number of NCAA Division I football records. He played so well that year, that Manziel won the Heisman Trophy–college football’s most prestigious award and one that no freshman had ever won.

After playing two years of college football, he entered the NFL draft and was selected as the 22nd pick by the Cleveland Browns. That was a bit of a letdown for Manziel as he had been projected to go as high as a top-5 pick by NFL commentators. Numerous off-the-field incident–including apparent alcohol and anger management issues–made a lot of teams unwilling to take a chance on him.

So far, his NFL career has validated the concerns of those teams who passed on him. Manziel has been in one controversy after another. He appears to have a substance abuse problem, and has had several disturbing domestic violence-related run-ins with police. As Slate summarizes Manziel’s latest off-field incident,

NFL quarterback Johnny Manziel’s personal and professional problems took a turn for the (more) serious on Thursday with a Forth Worth police report alleging the Heisman winner assaulted and threatened to kill his ex-girlfriend over the weekend. Colleen Crowley, who dated the quarterback for two years before splitting in December, outlined to police an alleged assault that began after a dispute in a Dallas hotel room and ended at her Ft. Worth apartment. Crowley told police she feared for her life and that Manziel pulled her hair, hit her, and said he would kill them both.

This and similar incidents this year indicate Manziel is a danger to himself and others. And yet, there are craven sports writers such as Yahoo!’s Dan Wetzel who put the blinders on and calculate the costs of Manziel’s ongoing breakdown solely in football terms. Wetzel describes Crowley telling police that Manziel threatened to kill himself and her and then writes (emphasis added),

Even if this latest incident didn’t happen, as Manziel contends, he’s almost assuredly not “stable,” “safe” or “secure.” Manziel, in desperate need of calm in his life, continues to find himself in the middle of drama, whether it’s pictures of him partying or despicable allegations showing up on police reports.

“I know I’ve been having fun,” he told TMZ, “but I just need to get my body right. I’m 100 percent committed to playing football.”

Manziel can only hope there is still an NFL team out there that sees enough in him that they are willing to spend time, money and resources to chase the witnesses and video footage, and sign a guy to a camp contract while covering their eyes and hoping next week doesn’t bring another incident.

Wow. Are you kidding, Dan? What Manziel should hope for is that he can find another NFL team to overlook his off-field unraveling so he can keep playing football? Does Manziel have to actually follow through on his threat to kill Crowley before it might occur to Wetzel that NFL should back away from Manziel entirely and stop enabling his behavior?

Here, lets rewrite Wetzel’s last paragraph as if a human being had written it,

Manziel can only hope there are no NFL teams willing to continue spending time, money and resources to enable his self-destructive behavior. Instead of covering their eyes and hoping Manziel’s problems just go away, the NFL should make it clear that if he ever intends on playing professional football again, he needs to make dealing with his personal problems his only priority.