- The Washington Times - Wednesday, April 20, 2016

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

“I owe private apologies to a lot of people that I disappointed but a very public one to the Browns organization and the fans that I let down. I take full responsibility for my actions and it’s my intention to work very hard 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.” — Johnny Manziel

Those are perfect comments by the former Cleveland quarterback, addressing a series of troubling incidents more numerous than his highlights. But here’s a problem: That statement was released a year ago when Manziel ended a 10-week stint in rehab. His behavior has only deteriorated, especially since January and after the Browns released him last month.

Apparently, the unnamed substance-abuse treatment didn’t take.

If Manziel needed more evidence that his life resembles a crash-and-burn spiral, it occurred on Tuesday, when he was dropped by his second agent in two months. You know you’re headed in the wrong direction when Drew Rosenhaus refuses to represent you. Rosenhaus lasted just five days, the time he gave Manziel to seek treatment or be dumped.

When pictures surfaced showing Manziel partying with his posse last weekend at Coachella, a popular music and arts festival in California, Rosenhaus followed through on his pledge.

“This is a life-or-death situation,” the agent said on a SiriusXM radio show. “I’m not talking about football anymore. I’m talking about a young man who is in trouble. And at the end of the day, I have a responsibility. I’m not going to see him go down in flames with me as his agent.”

So he’ll watch from afar like everyone else, as TMZ, the New York Post’s “Page Six” and other celebrity-gossip sites chronicle every stop on the Manziel party-hop tour — assuming the “fun” isn’t interrupted by jail time.

Manziel faces up to a year in prison for a domestic violence case that will be presented Thursday to a grand jury in Dallas. The NFL is investigating the incident involving his former girlfriend and could suspend him for violating the league’s personal conduct policy.

There seems to be plenty of evidence for such a charge, regardless of the proceedings in Dallas.

Rosenhaus said this is the first time in 27 years as an agent that he has fired a client. Erik Burkhardt, who negotiated Manziel’s original contract with Cleveland, gave up in February. LeBron James’ marketing agency, LRMR, cut ties in January. Nike dropped the former Heisman Trophy-winner sometime after last season.

Everyone can see the destructive path Manziel is traveling except the quarterback and his so-called friends — the enablers who ride shotgun, play wingmen and quite possibly have their own substance-abuse issues.

Whether it’s “just alcohol” or assorted recreational drugs, Manziel clearly is out of control, which has been the case overall since he enthralled the nation as “Johnny Football” at Texas A&M. However, troubles conveniently swept away and overlooked in college towns don’t disappear as easily in the pro spotlight.
It doesn’t help that Manziel continually poses for pictures that put him a bad light, but even when cameras aren’t present, his alleged antics come to our attention.

According to Los Angeles police, Manziel was involved in a hit-and-run accident while riding in a car that struck a light pole earlier this month. According to the New York Post, Manziel and his crew also caused $32,000 in damage to a luxury home he rented for two days this month, leaving the place strewn with booze, drugs and broken glass, while marring the carpet with wine stains and cigarette burns.

Yet, in a classic example of denial and delusion, Manziel thinks a return to the NFL is within reach this year.

“I’m hoping to take care of the issues in front of me right now so I can focus on what I have to do if I want to play in 2016,” Manziel said in a statement ib Tuesday as the news about Rosenhaus and Nike spread. “I also continue to be thankful to those who really know me and support me.”

I suppose his father would be high on the list. Paul Manziel has been unsuccessful in attempts to steer his 23-year-old son back to rehab for the treatment he obviously needs. “I truly believe if they can’t get him help, he won’t live to see his 24th birthday,” he told The Dallas Morning News in February.

A Manziel spokesperson appears to not understand the depth of the quarterback’s troubles, blaming it on perception. “So many people only have one image of Jonathan but, believe it or not, he takes all this very seriously,” Denise Michaels told ESPN. “He’s hoping that he can clear up his personal issues, start interviewing agents and see what he needs to do if he wants to play this year.”

He needs to worry less about potential agents and getting back on the field. A football career is nothing compared to the rest of his life.

Whether or not he realizes it, the latter is hanging in the balance.

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