Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Johnny Therapy

You learn something every day, if you're lucky. And so today the lesson comes from Johnny Manziel, strange as that may sound.

The lesson is this: You can get help for being 22 years old.

Near as I can figures that's essentially what Manziel, the Cleveland Browns livin'-a-little-too-large quarterback, is entering rehab for, as announced yesterday by Manziel's "spokesperson."  (And when did backup quarterbacks start employing "spokespersons," anyway?). Johnny Football is going to become Johnny Therapy, not for any disclosed substance abuse, but in order to "figure out his value system."

And here I thought people went to church for that.

Johnny, though, is entering rehab for it, which suggests that either he was smart enough to figure out that his life was about to spin completely out of control, or someone close to him was smart enough to figure it out for him. Somehow I think it's the latter, and somehow I think that someone was his employer.

This frankly has the Browns' fingerprints all over it, and further suggests that at some point there was a come-to-Jesus meeting between Manziel and management. And if there was, I imagine the gist of it was that Johnny Football needed to rein in Johnny Good Times, or Johnny would be playing his Football in Saskatchewan or some similar outpost.

So, he's off to rehab himself from ... what, exactly? Being too willing to have a good time? Being not enough like Tom Brady or Peyton Manning? Being Johnny?

Maybe this isn't at all unusual (I'm guessingit probably isn't), but it sure seems unusual. And maybe later we'll find out that Manziel was, in fact, spiraling out of control with drugs or booze or gambling or some other recognized vice.

Right now, though, he's the only high-profile athlete of whom I've heard who entered rehab to stop being 22. And it's a fascinating window into the mentality of the NFL, which values image above all else, particularly as it applies to high profile positions such as quarterback.

I haven't, for instance, heard anything about Rob Gronkowski, the Patriots' equally good-timin' tight end, entering rehab to figure out his value system. But, then he's just a tight end, not the de facto CEO on the field the quarterback position has become in the NFL.

And so, off to rehab Johnny Therapy will go. And if this was truly all his own doing, good on him. It's a rare human who recognizes he's headed down the wrong path before he's gone too far down it. Nothing in Manziel's public persona suggests he is that rare human -- so far he's more personified the genus Goofius Kidius -- but if so, there's far more depth to him than any of us suspected.

And that's a good thing.


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