It’s not possible to go several days without a media freakout about Johnny Manziel, whether it’s the quarterback spending Memorial Day weekend in Las Vegas, getting drunk and holding money stacks or, really, anything that conforms to the narrative that any good time Johnny Football has on his own is just a signal that he’s an out-of-control party monster set to derail his career even before it starts.
The latest to beat the distraction drum is Mary Kay Cabot, the Browns beat writer for the Cleveland Plain Dealer, who in a mailbag column not only suggests that Manziel basically isn’t trying to win the starting job, but he needs to get checked out for possible alcoholism based on the fact that he’s been photographed drinking a few times.
Hey, Mary Kay: I am a longtime Browns fan who continues to be concerned about Johnny Manziel’s childish behavior. He hasn’t played an NFL snap and in my opinion has been a major distraction. Isn’t it time for him to man up and act like a Brown?
– Larry Smith, Lexington , Ky.
Hey Larry: Yes, it is time for Johnny Manziel to buckle down and focus on winning the starting quarterback job. It’s also time for the Browns and other people in Manziel’s life to pull him aside and address his drinking. I’m guessing the Browns are already doing this, but keeping it private. With the pattern Manziel has shown since being drafted, it’s time to have him evaluated by a chemical dependency counselor to make sure he doesn’t have a problem. If he checks out okay, he needs to follow Joe Haden’s advice: when he and his friends are out, put away the phones.
A 21-year-old has been spotted boozing five times in a month and a half? Must be substance abuse! Thanks for the prognosis, Dr. Cabot.
For someone whose job it is to cover the Browns exclusively, Cabot possesses little actual information about the team. She guesses at what the Browns are doing to address a situation that no one but her and one reader seem alarmed about. To raise the possibility of alcoholism, Cabot employs the old “pattern of behavior” device, which is journalism code for “here are two examples of things that Manziel has been criticized for, so if I string them together it sounds like he has a real problem.”
Even if Manziel does consent to chemical dependency tests – and Cabot makes no indication that anyone on the team is even suggesting it – and turns up fine, Cabot’s conclusion is that Manziel needs to put his phone away during drinking time lest he be the worst thing to trolly NFL writers: A DISTRACTION!
After all, you wouldn’t want to be a distraction to a franchise that has been synonymous with dysfunction over the past 15 years, especially one owned by a man presently being investigated by the federal government for wide-scald fraud. The last thing you want to do is distract everyone from that.