Johnny Manziel and how life gets in the way

Home*Johnny Manziel and how life gets in the way


(Terrance Gavan is a recovered alcoholic, and his pronouncements should be taken with the obligatory bag of salt… sober since March 20, 1998. Owns the tee-shirt.)

There is no one straight path to recovery. A fact that any people currently mired in the muck of this Johnny Football debacle – to wit: those that are seeking to get him well, or at least well enough to play football again – will have realized two years ago.

Throwing lifelines to alcoholics is fraught with rudimentary problems, not the least of which is the staggering notion that no alcoholic is coming unless they’re dead fucking certain that they need help. The trope of the helpless and hapless alkie has been played out through an assortment of classic memes on film, in vivid documentaries and in print. So we do not need to go in flagrante on this baby. Amy Winehouse, Janis Joplin and others have offered cautionary tales to those that would deem themselves, like Manziel, above the fray. Derek Sanderson’s life could offer some insight, if Johnny Football felt inclined to delve into the nether regions of this manic, indecorous disease.

Successful alcoholics are among the hardest sect of that branch to cure. They’re not doing that bad, in fact most of them are achieving at a level they had never deemed possible. High-functioning alcoholics (alas this is a creepy oxymoron and worthy of further rudimentary deconstruction) are loathe to put anything in the way of that spiral of success. Johnny Manziel is certainly at the top end of that spectrum, and granted, the professional sports player has never suffered from an egregious lack of confidence in what constitutes a pinnacle. Manziel is no common drunk. But he’s a drunk. He goddam admits that he’s a drunk. Has done for a long time. Only recently he tweeted from a barstool prior to a Justin Bieber concert that he’s always been “Johnny Football” and so what’s wrong people? Don’t you get it? This is me.

The tweet was in reply to another tweet that showed him awaiting Bieber plunked in a bar doing what he does. Preparing for another night of frolic, primed on the esoteric prop of a pop, booze, which has fuelled all of his bad behavior and antediluvian hijinx since his glory days in high school. He was, in a word, angry that someone had snapped a photo of him in a bar.

His response? Well, the response has been well-documented and we purge this explanation from the pages of The Dallas Morning News.

The New York Post and TMZ Sports both shared photos of the former Heisman winner spotted around Columbus, Ohio, on Thursday night. One of them was posted by a Cleveland-area radio host Will Burge of WTAM-1100 In response to the photo from Burge, Manziel Tweeted, “LOL” or laugh out loud. He then insulted the photo taker, telling the taker, “should have just said it to my face instead of sitting across from us tweeting away. (Expletive). He also Tweeted:  “You guys act like what I’m doing is something new. I’ve been the same person, doing the same things since it all started. “Made plenty of mistakes along the way, and have a lot I’d do differently. To all my family and real friends who have stuck by me…THANK YOU” (Credit to: Dallas Morning News – Excerpt).

One trinket that all alcoholics carry is a need to explain, justify, enhance, describe or ‘moot-court’ their drinking. We love the stories and we relate to ‘survivors’ even if we are not. Surviving. Alcoholics love a good drinking story, because good stories mute the internal struggle. The fact that we are not comfortable with ourselves.

When an agent drops a client with the earning potential of Johnny Manziel, as Drew Rosenhaus just did, we should take note. Agents are not known for their bedside manner, or altruistic nature. When a vulture refuses to chew on the carrion? That is a big deal.

“I have terminated the standard representation with Johnny Manziel in the hopes of helping him get the treatment I believe he needs,” Rosenhaus said, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter. “I have informed him that if he takes the immediate steps I have outlined for him that I will rescind the termination and continue to represent him. Otherwise the termination will become permanent. There is a five-day window for me to rescind the termination. I’m hoping he takes the necessary steps to get his life back on track.” (Yahoo Sports.)

Manziel was already dumped by his first agent, Erik Burkhardt, earlier this year. Players change agents regularly, but it’s rare for a player to be dumped by an agent. Rosenhaus is threatening to be the second agent to dump Manziel in a little more than two months. That might be unprecedented. (Yahoo Sports.)

A few so-called experts have wheedled in talking-head spots that Manziel will not see 30. I’m over 60 and know from long experience with alcoholics that life expectancy predictions are ridiculous. No alcoholic succumbs without a fight and rumors of their deaths are greatly exaggerated.

Johnny Football is going to do whatever it is that pleases Johnny Football… until Johnny Manziel realizes that what Johnny Football wants is killing Johnny Manziel.

The trouble with that?

It doesn’t always happen.

You can be sad about that, but you won’t change it.

Get Terrance Gavan on Twitter @terrancegavan

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