Manziel works the media this time around, but will it work for him?
Four years ago, as Johnny Manziel entered the draft, he created a distinct “all about football” vibe, shunning all media requests as he focused on preparing for life in the NFL. Then, after he was drafted, he was all about everything but football.
We all love a story of redemption, and maybe that’s why the media continues to provide the platform to a player no one in the NFL seems to actually want. The media collectively knows that having Manziel in the NFL is good for the media’s business, as the hero-turned-antihero-turned-hero tries to turn his football career into something more than it ever was.
The question remains whether any NFL team will ever trust him again. He duped the Browns in 2014, and he duped them again in 2015. While substance abuse and/or alcohol use caused his career to go off the rails, his wing-it work ethic also contributed to his on-field failures.
With Ricardo Allen and Keanu Neal still on hand as the starting safeties, Ishmael is likely set for a similar role with the Falcons this year.
There is no precedent for a quarterback returning from two years away to earn a starting job in his first season back. There have been only six cases since the 1970 merger in which a quarterback has started eight-plus games in a season after not playing in an NFL game over the prior two-plus seasons, according to the Elias Sports Bureau research, and each were either on a roster or played in the CFL in the interim:
And fair or not, NFL teams have recently demonstrated a resistance toward investing in backup quarterbacks who they believe will draw public attention.
The league itself has also changed dramatically since Manziel was last a part of it. More than half of teams (17) hired new head coaches in those two seasons. There are also 14 new general managers, 27 new offensive coordinators and 14 teams with new starting quarterbacks. A total of 65 quarterbacks have started at least one game since the end of the 2015 season.