Johnny Manziel’s latest effort for public sympathy was a good effort — and probably genuine one. He opened up with “Good Morning America” about his struggles with mental health in a sobering interview during which he said he’s been dealing with bipolar disorder.
But he doesn’t deserve to come back to the NFL to compete for a job at quarterback — not even close.
Whether suffering from a mental health issue or not, Manziel is just two years removed from a legal indictment of assault, which is described on a police report in terrifying fashion. Manziel struck his ex-girlfriend repeatedly, forced her into a car with him and threatened to kill them both. He may have been suffering from bipolar disorder, but whether mentally healthy or unhealthy, that’s legally and morally unacceptable behavior.
Manziel needs more support, more help — he doesn’t need the spotlight.
And the NFL shouldn’t abandon him. The NFL owes these players healthcare for life, as far as I’m concerned. With all the knowledge we have about how repeated blows to the head can impact a football player’s brain, an NFL contract should also come with a partial ownership of every player’s health issues that occur in that brain. It doesn’t matter that bipolar disorder has not been linked to CTE.
NFL executive vice president of operations Troy Vincent told WTEL-AM in Philadelphia that the NFL was, indeed, trying to do everything they could to help Manziel in 2016.
“You see his parents and when the father speaks out about losing his son to potentially substance abuse, you know there’s a problem and you know Johnny’s not returning phone calls, he’s in different states. You kind of see him, you get his notice of where he is based off of social media, and that’s a challenge but we won’t stop, we’ll continue to keep reaching out. Letting Johnny know that we love him, we care for him and that we’re here when he’s willing and wants and is able to accept assistance, we’ll be there for him.”
Time for the NFL to put their money where their mouth is.
Once a rising star in the NFL, Manziel could become an ambassador for the league. If he has really gotten his life back on track and his disorder under control, then perhaps he’d accept a position with the league to help them with mental health issues. He could speak at the rookie symposium, serve as a mentor to players dealing with mental health issues and help coordinate those players with the proper medical help.
That’s how Manziel can contribute to the NFL. But as a quarterback? No way, no how. Not any time soon.
In league where kicker Josh Brown and defensive end Gregy Hardy do not have jobs, Manziel should not become the face of a franchise — he shouldn’t even be the backup for the face of an NFL franchise. He had his chance, and showed he wasn’t right for the job. It’s time for everyone to move on, especially Manziel.