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It seems the story of Johnny Football just won’t die

Netflix documentary dives into his Browns career

NFL: Cleveland Browns at Seattle Seahawks Troy Wayrynen-USA TODAY Sports

Ever since they became the new Browns in 1999, the franchise has constantly searched for an ace quarterback.

In the new summer series of “Untold”, Netflix dives into anthology stories about the doping scandal of Victor Conte, the Florida Gators’ road to the top, despised boxer Jake Paul, and former Cleveland Browns signalcaller Johnny Manziel and his flying circus. The Manziel episode will air on August 8.

Cleveland was still searching for their next great quarterback and selected Manziel with the 22nd pick in the 2014 NFL draft. While at Texas A&M, Manziel, nicknamed Johnny Football, took the school’s Air Raid offense to new heights as he broke numerous FBS and SEC records. He also became the first freshman in college football history to pass for over 3,000 yards and rush for over 1,000 yards in the same season.

Cleveland Browns v Kansas City Chiefs Photo by Peter G. Aiken/Getty Images

In 2012, Manziel won the Heisman Trophy and just about every other offensive award including SEC Offensive Player of the Year.

The Browns had two picks in the first round of the draft and selected CB Justin Gilbert at Number 8. Then at pick #22, they took Manziel. Future Hall of Fame DT Aaron Donald was selected at Number 13.

A lot of excitement and hope was attached to Manziel becoming the sensation he displayed in college. But he never came close to exhibiting that magical potential with inconsistent play, and after just two seasons was released.

The series dives into his party-boy attitude and how Cleveland gave him every chance to succeed and flourish. Manziel played in just 14 games with eight starts.

Former Browns head coach Mike Pettine benched Manziel in his second season right before a Monday Night game against the Baltimore Ravens. At the time, Coach Pettine stated:

“Josh McCown will be the starting quarterback on Monday night against the [Baltimore] Ravens,” Pettine said. “I informed the quarterbacks of that decision after I sat down and spoke with Johnny, [offensive coordinator John DeFilippo], and [quarterbacks coach] Kevin [O’Connell] after practice today. Johnny will be the third quarterback. I’ve spoken to [General Manager] Ray [Farmer) and [owner] Jimmy [Haslam] to inform them of my decision, and they are in full support.”

Cleveland Browns v Kansas City Chiefs Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images

Manziel had spent more than 10 weeks during the off-season in an inpatient rehabilitation facility specializing in alcohol and drug addiction treatment.

Pettine further explained:

“It’s a little easier to handle when it’s a one-time occurrence. But when the behavior repeats — and not just him, with anybody — certainly [it’s] a cause for concern.”

Manziel came from money. His great-grandfather Bobby Joe Manziel was a bantamweight boxer who was friends with heavyweight champion Jack Dempsey. The elder Manziel borrowed $400 from Dempsey in order to drill oil on the grounds of a church in Gladewater, Texas which produced a gusher.

After settling down in Tyler, Texas, Bobby Joe Manziel became a famous wealthy oil man.

Manziel comes from a family with a history of talented athletes and abundant inherited wealth. And with all these financial resources, Manziel could not stay out of trouble. In a feature story published by ESPN The Magazine, Manziel’s father, John Paul, acknowledged that he was concerned about his son’s anger issues, his drinking, and his struggles dealing as a celebrity and being a college athlete from a privileged life.

At the timeline close to his Texas A&M graduation, Manziel was quoted on as saying:

“There’s such a stereotype around student-athletes. They can’t come to grips with the fact I’ve been blessed with family members or whatever who’ve had these (financial) opportunities, and I’ve always been able to do this.”

According to Netflix materials published about the Manziel episode, they state that Manziel is interviewed along with his agent, former coaches, his lifelong best friend, and family members. No paparazzi member was injured during the filming of this episode. The publicity also states that Manziel himself presents a full accounting of his misdeeds while as a member of the Browns.

Wild Aces v Zappers Photo by Todd Kirkland/Fan Controlled Football/Getty Images

Oddly enough, Manziel is still playing professional football as a member of the Zappers in the Fan Controlled Football (FCF) league, an indoor entity that plays all games in Atlanta.

After the Browns, he took off a few seasons before signing with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats of the Canadian Football League (CFL) who had originally drafted his rights. His signing into the CFL came with drug and alcohol stipulations. He was on Hamilton’s roster for the first six games but never played. The Ti-Cats then traded him to the Montreal Alouettes whose head coach was Mike Sherman.

Manziel played eight games but struggled. The following season, Montreal released him from orders of the league because he had “contravened” the terms of his CFL contract. Part of the agreement was for the troubled quarterback to visit a therapist on a weekly basis which he did not. The CFL mandated that no other club could sign him which essentially banned him from the league.

Birmingham Iron v Memphis Express Photo by Joe Robbins/AAF/Getty Images

He landed with the Memphis Express of the AAF and played one and one-half games before the league folded. In 2020 he joined the FCF. He stated his reason was out of boredom without any future possibility of playing in the NFL. Last year he was named the player/coach of the Zappers.

Manziel’s name has popped up each year regarding both the USFL and XFL seasons. When asked about joining either league, he said:

“I think football is a little bit behind me. Football for me is not at the forefront of my mind. Listen, anything ‘The Rock’ touches will always be gold.”

Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson was the principal owner of the XFL which recently concluded their re-boot season with the Arlington Renegades winning the title.

As far as the Browns’ draft pick busts, it is a close race between LB Mike Junkin and Manziel.

At the very least, the Netflix episode about Johnny Football should be interesting. Then again, it just may be a stroll down memory lane that most Browns fans would just rather forget.