On the one hand, the Cleveland Browns’ decision to start Austin Davis over Johnny Manziel this Sunday is preposterous. After all, why start Davis when Manziel is a) your first-round draft pick and b) the guy you’re trying to evaluate as the future of your franchise?
On the other hand, maybe sitting Manziel isn’t preposterous. Maybe it’s actually smart.
“This is an opportunity,” CBS NFL Today analyst Bart Scott said on CBS Sports Radio’s Gio and Jones. “You’re not going to go to the playoffs. This is a learnable lesson that you can teach a young quarterback – and the only way to really make the football player pay attention is to take the game away. Johnny Manziel is a player and a young man that comes from means. So it’s not like he’s playing football because he has to because he has to put food on the table or he’s trying to get a big contract to take care of his family. His family is set. He plays the game because he loves it, but also he’s also been in a narcissistic environment when everybody was always telling him how great he was and lifting him up. This is a way to serve him some humble pie and say, ‘Listen, we don’t care what you think, you have to understand that you have a responsibility as a quarterback and as the face of this franchise to behave in a certain type of manner – and it starts with honesty.’”
Scott was asked how veterans will treat Manziel now that he has relapsed. Will they support him? Will they give him on him?
“You never give up on a teammate, just like you never give up on family,” Scott said. “I deal a lot with addicts with some of my programs, and most addicts relapse at least five times before they really understand. That’s a high success rate. Most people relapse and hit rock bottom 20, 30 times. As a veteran, you have to understand what type of kid he is. Everybody can’t receive the same message. Some guys you have to hold with a little more sensitivity, some people you have to be blunt with. I call them young punks. Whenever I was there, any of the young guys that didn’t know anything, they always think they had it figured out – I used to always call them young punks. I just try and helped to mature them and you have to be with them because you have to realize where you were at that time. You at the time was a different person and you matured. You said some things and did some things as a young player in the NFL that you wouldn’t do as a veteran.
“No matter how much you tell them, they have to go through some of these lessons themselves and learn some of these lessons on their own,” Scott continued. “You support him as a teammate and tell him what he needs to do and what the organization is expecting from him and try to just keep giving him the same message. Let him understand that he’s in a unique position, but at some point, they will wash their hands of you and it’s hard to get second opportunities once you’re labeled a certain type of player or certain type of person. In this league, perception is reality.”