Mason’s maundered musings: Johnny Eightball


Mason Schweizer, Columnist

Few athletes in recent memory have been as polarizing as Johnny Manziel, or his alter-ego-like nickname Johnny Football.

Johnny wooed even the casual fan with his unbelievable play, earning him the 2013 Heisman Trophy. But his egotistical, partyboy, don’t-give-a-damn lifestyle full of public drunken escapades made him as despicable to some as he was legendary to others.

When Johnny Foozeball was drafted by the consistently deplorable Cleveland Browns, I couldn’t have been more optimistic for both his career, but also a resurgence in the cursed Browns franchise.

I really hoped that within the decade, he would successfully take the Browns to the super bowl (sorry, I can never resist a poop joke).

Optimism can never defeat reality, and the reality was that Manziel found himself in the perfect storm that turned his career from a comedy to a tragedy. The Browns are known for their mismanagement of high-profile athletes and that wasn’t going to change.

More importantly than football, his life spiraled out of control. Manziel transitioned from the college party boy into a full-blown alcoholic quickly. And this week, he was indicted on charges of assaulting his girlfriend, who since the alleged January assault, has successfully placed a protective order against Manziel.

Not long after, Manziel was living with former Browns teammate and one of the most talented stoner athletes, Josh Gordon. For a second time in his life, connections to cocaine turned him from Johnny Football to Johnny Eightball. The spiral continued.

He grew up in a very fairly well-off family, and critics of Manziel draw seemingly apt comparisons between Manziel and his refusal to turn down to the Affluenza Teen, Ethan Couch.

However, financial resources very rarely can save someone battling addiction. Sure, the man has made a lot of mistakes, including the alleged assault. He either doesn’t realize he has a problem with at least alcohol or can’t bring himself to face his addiction. It puts his family, who as by all records done as much as they can, in a tough spot.

As a former fan of Johnny Football, it’s tough to continue to defend a guy with witnesses to him kidnapping and assaulting his girlfriend in a hotel parking lot. After being dropped from two agents in two months, his release from Cleveland and now the indictment looming, hopefully this will be Johnny’s rock bottom.

Manziel has a better chance of sporting a prison jumpsuit than an NFL uniform in the next 12 months. He has to realize that and try to get his life back on track.

A successful redemption story is about as American as Apple Pie hipster-filled music festivals. Manziel’s home state of Texas knows about a comeback story more than most. Recovering cocaine addict and alcoholic Josh Hamilton went from being the first-overall pick in the 1999 MLB Draft to out of baseball in less than five years because of his addictions.

He battled his demons and came back to be the star he always had been thought to be, winning the 2010 American League MVP award as a Ranger.

If Manziel can fight off the stranglehold alcohol has on his life, he could be football’s Josh Hamilton. And although it will be difficult to get over his assault charge as a fan, we all deserve a second chance.

So here’s to you Johnny Football. As a fellow human being who has seen closely what both drug and alcohol addiction can do to a person, I hope you can get your life back on track.