CLEVELAND — Johnny Manziel famously made his entrance into the NFL by putting on a Browns baseball cap and strutting onto the stage of New York’s Radio City Music Hall while rubbing his fingers together.
Money Manziel promised to “wreck this league.”
He wrecked all right.
The Browns indicated Tuesday that they’ve finally had enough of Manziel’s bad-boy behavior and intend to release the quarterback in March when the league begins its next calendar year. Manziel has run out of chances in Cleveland, where he was welcomed like a hero but will leave in disgrace to a cloudy future.
“We’ve been clear about expectations for our players on and off the field,” Browns vice president of football operations Sashi Brown said in a strongly worded statement that unofficially ended Manziel’s tumultuous two-year stint with the Browns. “Johnny’s continual involvement in incidents that run counter to those expectations undermines the hard work of his teammates and the reputation of our organization.
“His status with our team will be addressed when permitted by league rules.”
The Browns are done with him. It’s about time.
He tested their patience, betrayed their support and ultimately made the decision easy for them to kick a deflated Johnny Football out the door. They gave him every opportunity to succeed and Manziel still couldn’t behave.
He was a distraction, a disaster.
During his eventful time with Cleveland, Manziel showed flashes of being a competent player, but there were so many other disturbances that it became difficult to separate Johnny the Quarterback from Johnny the Joker.
Here’s a small sampling of some of Manziel’s most significant missteps during his days with the Browns.
PARTY ANIMAL: One month after he was drafted with the 22nd overall pick, Manziel was photographed swigging champagne as he floated on an inflatable white swan in a nightclub’s pool in Austin, Texas. It was the first of many photos of Manziel that went viral on social media, but this one was the most memorable for being both bizarre and brash.
Before training camp opened in 2014, a clearly intoxicated Manziel was photographed talking into a money phone, and the Browns were disturbed by an image of him holding a rolled up dollar bill in a Las Vegas bathroom.
FICKLE FINGER: During his second exhibition game, Manziel flipped his middle finger toward Washington’s sideline as he jogged back to the huddle following an incomplete pass.
Manziel was fined $12,000 by the NFL for the profane gesture, which provided both an early look at his cocky attitude and how much opponents wanted a piece of him.
When Manziel made his first career start later in the season, Cincinnati Bengals defenders teased and taunted him by mimicking his “money” gesture after a sack.
MISSING IN ACTION: Manziel skipped Cleveland’s walk-through practice and a medical treatment before the team flew to Baltimore for the 2014 season finale. The Browns didn’t know where he was and had to send security personnel to his downtown apartment to wake him.
Later, it was learned that Manziel was often tardy to meetings or not as engaged as needed for a rookie quarterback. Following the season, he promised to take his job more seriously.
OFFSEASON REHAB: The late nights caught up with Manziel, who entered Caron, a rehab facility in Pennsylvania specializing in treatment for alcohol and drug abuse. Manziel spent 73 days under care, and upon his release, he apologized to the Browns and their fans and vowed to “regain everyone’s trust and respect. I understand that will take time and will only happen through what I do and not what I say.”
Browns coach Mike Pettine visited Manziel during the quarterback’s treatment and expressed how proud he was that the youngster stepped forward to get help.
ROADSIDE RAGE: In October, police in Avon, Ohio, were called after Manziel got into a heated argument while driving with his girlfriend, Colleen Crowley. She told police that Manziel was violent, banging her head into the car’s window. The couple admitted to drinking alcohol earlier in the day, but Manziel was not arrested and was allowed to leave with Crowley.
The NFL investigated the incident, but after interviewing Manziel and others, the league determined the 23-year-old did not violate its personal-conduct policy. Still, it was a disturbing episode for Manziel, who was named Cleveland’s starter for the remainder of the season on the same day he was cleared.
TEXAS TROUBLE: Manziel was involved in another domestic dispute as police in Fort Worth, Texas, were called to investigate a possible assault on his ex-girlfriend. It’s not known if the woman was Crowley, but she told police she was concerned for Manziel’s well-being and a helicopter was used to help locate him.
Manziel was not arrested, but the incident prompted the NFL to begin another inquiry.
It was the final straw for the Browns.
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