The National Football League was built on captivating entertainment and larger-than-life superstars. The likes of Joe Namath, Lawrence Taylor, Brett Favre, and Ray Lewis etched their names into NFL greatness by being electrifying, charismatic, and, more than anything, entertaining. Without players of this type, the National Football League would simply be a bunch of middle-aged men tossing a ball around. However, due to fans either loving, or loving to hate, legendary flamboyant players, the NFL has developed into the greatest spectacle to ever grace Sunday afternoon television week after week. This was not created by players like Matt Cassel, Josh McCown, or even Mathew Stafford; this was created by players like Johnny Manziel.
On November, 10, 2012, Johnny Manziel's entire life changed. In just one afternoon, Manziel had managed to earn the respect of every football fan in the nation after leading his Fighting Texas Aggies to a 29-24 victory over the top-ranked Alabama Crimson Tide on their home turf. A legend was born. Johnny solidified his spot in college football history by becoming an All-American, MVP of two bowl games, and a recipient of the Heisman Trophy. However, along with the successes, Manziel's well-documented mistakes came, too. Johnny Manziel was far from perfect. Everyone in the country knew of Johnny Football's flaws, especially his undeniable love for alcohol. After being selected in the first round of the 2014 NFL Draft by the Cleveland Browns, Manziel was put in a position where the reckless partying that he enjoyed so much in college was no longer acceptable. Johnny Football had to make some changes. He didn't. To say the very least, Johnny's rookie campaign was an absolute failure. It seemed as if the legend known as Johnny Football was over before it even began. All of the respect he had earned as a football player was suddenly replaced by doubt. Johnny Manziel had hit rock bottom.
If you've ever watched Mr. Manziel play a football game, you know it is almost cinematic. Human beings are simply not supposed to run so quickly or move so precisely in real life. It's only right that Johnny Manziel's life would be exactly like a movie. The main character has flashes of greatness, yet reaches a predicament that is seemingly inescapable. However, as soon as you think the movie is going to end tragically, the star fulfills his or her destiny and comes out victorious. Johnny Football should be on his way to fulfilling his destiny—to be a legendary NFL icon. Contrary to Hollywood films, however, a majority of the audience, a group that includes his very own Head Coach, is not rooting for him. If this continues to be the case, nobody will win.
It's obvious what Johnny Manziel will gain from getting the starting nod: a second chance. As humans, a second chance is the greatest gift we can give another person. Johnny has admitted he fell short of what was called of him. He went to rehab, got his life together, and devoted his entire life to helping the Cleveland Browns win football games. He has done his part. Now he simply needs the blessing from his Head Coach to complete his recovery.
Next, what can the Browns gain from starting Manziel? More than anything, Johnny Manziel can give the Cleveland Browns hope. In the last 25 years, the Browns have only made the playoffs two times, and haven't had a winning season since 2007. Quite frankly, from the Browns' point of view, they have absolutely nothing to lose. As an organization, Cleveland can only go up. With Josh McCown at quarterback the Browns are never going to be better than mediocre. Sure, they may manage a 7-9 or 6-10 season, but all they will get in return is a decent draft pick and a disappointed fan base. With Johnny taking the snaps, however, there is a sense of hope. There is a feeling that anything could happen. Who knows? It is possible that Manziel could exceed expectations and lead a playoff drive. You know exactly what Josh McCown is going to do every time he steps on the field.
Not only will Cleveland fans benefit from Johnny Manziel being the starting quarterback, but every NFL fan will. From The Dawg Pound's point of view, they get to experience an exhilarating display of athleticism week in and week out. Watching Johnny command an offense is simply fun. Browns fans will feel compelled to come to the stadium each Sunday solely because something amazing might happen. On the other hand, fans of the 31 other teams get to root against Johnny, which is almost equally as entertaining. Fans don't get excited when their team defeats Josh McCown. It's no fun. However, fanbases love beating "Johnny Football." Football is entertainment, and people want excitement. Johnny Manziel is as exciting as they come.
Last, what can the NFL gain from Johnny Manziel taking the field every Sunday? For starters, Manziel brings in revenue. As formerly mentioned, Johnny makes people want to fill up stadiums, both at home and away. Something spectacular may happen, and people love experiencing the spectacular. In addition to filling the stadium, Johnny Manziel sells jerseys. The kid is such an icon in pop-culture that his jerseys fly off the shelves. Wearing an orange Manziel jersey is the "cool" thing to do, and every snap he gets under center creates more and more demand. Next, the NFL needs Johnny Manziel because he creates interest. Not only does Johnny Manziel make ESPN headlines, but he makes TMZ and CNN headlines as well. Almost every single person in America knows who Johnny Manziel is. On the contrary, unless they are a diehard football fan, most people probably have no idea Josh McCown exists. The NFL prides itself on being the top sport market in the country, and rightfully so. However, if they want to keep that title, they have to keep interest. Players like Johnny Manziel create interest because they are relevant outside of the sports world.
Like him or not, Johnny Manziel is good for the National Football League. The world is a better place with Number Two taking snaps for the Cleveland Browns, and we all want a better world right? So, Mike Pettine, what are you going to do? Are you going to deprive the world of joy by starting Josh McCown, or are you going to make the decision that makes sense? Make The Johnny Manziel Movie a feel-good movie, not a tragedy.