Manziel Enters Rehab
Love him or hate him, there is no denying that Johnny Manziel is currently one of the most polarizing figures in the NFL. He currently has the third highest selling jersey in the league, which is very impressive for a backup quarterback on a non-playoff team. It seemed like every day on ESPN this past season there was a new story about Manziel, but, unfortunately, most of those stories were about his out-of-control partying rather than his play on the field. That is why it was so surprising to hear this week that Manziel had voluntarily checked himself into an inpatient rehab last Wednesday, which is a very mature move by someone who has made so many immature headlines.
In my mind, this is a really good sign for Manziel. Since he’s been such a talent on the field back to his A&M days, Manziel seems to have gotten a free pass from everybody around him for his partying. It had never created a major issue as far as it affecting his playing time, and many people have glowingly called it “Johnny being Johnny.” But letting Manziel be himself has enabled him into a life of alcohol dependency that could not only jeopardize his career but also his well-being. Now Manziel was finally able to do what the Cleveland Browns have wanted him to do since he joined the team: show maturity. By voluntarily committing to rehab, he has a much better chance of seeing it through to completion. And, according to Browns beat writer Mary Kay Cabot, his family and friends are very confident that he will “take it seriously and do the work needed to get well” because he was not forced into the decision.
I really applaud Manziel for what he has done, and I hope that he has prepared himself for the difficult battle it will be to recover. One of Manziel’s close friends and mentors, George Whitfield Jr., tweeted that this is the “best possible thing for Johnny Manziel.” It was a great step for him towards growing up, and with all of the support Manziel has at his disposal, he’s set himself up to be able to overcome his addiction and get back onto the football field to prove himself in the NFL. Even more importantly, he has taken initiative at such a young age to improve his overall happiness and well-being in life. He has shown new (first-time?) maturity by admitting his mistakes and taking the proper steps to fix them.
This story is a good reminder that the players in the NFL are humans and not superhumans. It’s okay to ask for help, and it’s okay to admit mistakes. This past season saw players like Ray Rice, Greg Hardy, and Adrian Peterson (to name a few) not ask for help, and, in the process, hurt themselves and those around them. It also saw fans who were furious that their favorite players were taken off of the field, instead of having concern for their long-term well being. I might be unrealistically idealistic, but it woudl be nice if fans could start showing more concern about the human aspect of the game. This concern should extend past just fans and go to the commissioner of the league as well. For Roger Goodell, the concern for the well being of the league’s players should not be blurred because a certain athlete is capable of bringing in more money at the gate than others. Johnny Manziel probably should have been placed in a league or team mandated rehab facility months ago, but he was continuously let off the hook with a simple slap on the wrist. That is why I again applaud him for taking matters into his own hands and trying to get his life back on track. Since these players are simply human, they need help as much as anybody else.