In My Ohio

On the Twenty-Two Possibilities of Johnny Manziel, Cleveland Brown

Johnny Football. Johnny Lightning Bug. Johnny Pay Me. Johnny Heisman. Johnny Flutie. Johnny Autograph. Johnny Texas. Johnny DawgPound. Whatever you call him now, Johnny Manziel, quarterback and social circus icon, is now a Cleveland Brown thanks to some shrewd moves that included getting the best cornerback in the draft (Justin Gilbert) and picking up an extra first round pick in next year’s draft. It was impressive. The Browns were impressive last night. Let that dissolve on your tongue like a sugar cube. Enjoy that. So, with another quarterback of the future in the fold, what might be the outcome of bringing in the young, improvisational star that is Johnny? I see it playing out in any combination of these twenty-two scenarios…

1. Johnny refuses to sign for his slotted price of last year’s #22 pick, plus an increase for the year passing and for him being a quarterback. He sits out for the entire year because the Browns won’t pay him what he feels he is worth. Brian Hoyer leads a 9-7 Browns team. I think they’re a 9-7 team with either quarterback. Not a playoff team, but unless the QB situation is a County Fair, they will be better this year.
2. Johnny has already moved to Cleveland and begun learning the playbook. He has dedicated himself to becoming the best quarterback in the league and is soberly approaching his job as a professional. He vows to drink only in the off-season.
3. Johnny is still drunk from his celebration/revenge drinking last night, and he misses the plane to Cleveland, beginning a contentious relationship with Coupon Jimmy. He is traded in three years to a desperate Jerry Jones and his ailing Dallas Cowboys who give up a 1st round pick for a QB that never got a chance in Cleveland.
4. Johnny misses the stardom that came with being the biggest thing in college football, and in effort to bring more cameras to Cleveland, he starts dating Taylor Swift as an attempt to sleep his way back into the headlines. She releases the best album of her career, “Johnny Asshole”.
5. Johnny leads a Browns team to the playoff in his first year, but gets drunk with Cavaliers guard Dion Waiters the night before the game and woefully underperforms against Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos in a 49-7 beat down.
6. Johnny becomes obsessed with getting the blessing of Browns great Bernie Kosar, who fleeces him out of his first fortune in an attempt to develop the first floating condominiums on Lake Erie.
7. Johnny burns down the Rock N’ Roll Hall of Fame after a night of parking lot drinking at the stadium. He is arrested and released on a three million dollar bond paid by Lebron James.
8. Johnny, in a nod to Troy Aikman, begins dating a much older country music star, let’s say Miranda Lambert, and gives a very frank interview about her bedroom prowess. Lambert legally changes her name to Miranda Football. They divorce in the middle of his fourth season.
9. Johnny becomes the first NFL quarterback to throw for forty touchdowns and forty interceptions in a single season.
10. Johnny leads the Cleveland Browns to the Super Bowl in his third season. The young, talented bunch brings redemption to the much-maligned sports town. He burns down the Rock N’ Roll Hall of Fame and is not arrested.
11. Johnny is elected the governor of Nick Swisher’s “Brohio” and immediately disbands the group, beginning an epic feud between Swisher and Johnny. It ends with Swisher fighting Johnny at Melt. The greatest grilled-cheese sandwich ever is invented and dubbed the “Johnny Gut Punch”.
12. After two years of sitting on the bench in Cleveland, Johnny Unsatisfied negotiates a trade to the Los Angeles Jaguars, where he adopts the name Johnny Hollywood.
13. Johnny, doing well in Cleveland, talks Lebron James into coming back. They open up a five-acre-large bowling alley in the space where the Rock N’ Roll Hall of Fame used to stand.
14. Johnny struggles to stay healthy in the NFL. He performs very well, but ultimately goes the Jake Locker route, and is not tendered the fifth year option of his rookie contract.
15. Johnny adopts a tiger from the Columbus Zoo. He trains it so that it can be ridden to and from the stadium. It eats Dan Gilbert, Cleveland Cavalier owner, clearing the way for Lebron James to buy the team and become the first ever player/owner.
16. Johnny falls in love with the Great Lakes Brewing Company, and refuses to eat or drink anywhere else. He becomes known only as Johnny Drunk or Johnny Fatso. He retires from the NFL at the age of 25 and begins hosting a local Saturday afternoon movie program called “Johnny’s Monster Movies”.
17. Johnny performs really well for the first three years as a Brown, making the playoffs twice, but losing badly each time he gets there (thanks Dion Waiters) and outrageously demands a 20 million dollar a year contract two years before his rookie deal expires.
18. Johnny starts filming every moment of his life, in an effort to “go clear” like in the Dave Egger’s book “The Circle”. He becomes the most famous man in the country, but ultimately far too distracted by the exposure to become a competent NFL quarterback. He is released for sharing the playbook with the whole world.
19. Johnny begins making jokes about ownership. We find him in the back of a truck trailer in rural Tennessee. He is alive, but badly shaken by the experience. He is never seen in Cleveland again. He coaches high school football in a small Oregon town for the rest of his life.
20. Johnny goes the way of James Dean. He shows us greatness and burns out far too quickly after bringing the Browns their only Super Bowl victory. A new era of sad losing begins. A statue is erected in his honor. The NFL still does almost nothing to curtail the absurd number of substance-induced traffic violations.
21. Johnny buys the Canadian Football League in total. It becomes a Harlem Globetrotters scenario, where he decidedly wins every single football game he plays. He retires at 35, having never lost as a professional.
22. Johnny does what every rookie quarterback with any talent and any holes in his game does. He struggles, he develops, he improves, and maybe, just maybe he develops into a guy capable of doing just enough to win the biggest of all games.

I really don’t know where we are all headed with Johnny Manziel as a member of the Cleveland Browns. I absolutely love imagining just what might happen if he spends the better part of a decade in Ohio. Here’s hoping he is at the very least Johnny Good.