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Manfull: Gone pro

BY ERIN MANFULL | FEBRUARY 04, 2015 5:00 AM

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It seems that all too often, the second young athletes come into money, they disappear faster than a pint of ice cream post-Lent. They leave the sheltered life in the NCAA and enter the NFL realm of sex, drugs, and the occasional football game. There’s a huge jump from NCAA to NFL in terms of expectations and, most importantly, rules. NCAA players are closely monitored on all platforms by coaches, athletics directors, and the school itself, but the reins loosen up once the players sign their shiny new contracts.

The latest young star to crumble is none other than Johnny Football himself, Johnny Manziel. The former star quarterback and Heisman winner left Texas A&M and headed to the Cleveland Browns, where his infamous partying and antics were only perpetuated. After his rookie season was cut short with a hamstring injury, not to mention minimal playing time, Manziel turned to excessive partying and began to neglect his responsibilities as a team player. After being fined for missing his hamstring rehab, he told the press it was his time to step up and be the QB he should be. The next morning, he missed walk-through and was found in his apartment by security still drunk from the night before. Manziel has entered treatment this week to “improve” himself.

To be candid, I feel like Johnny Football’s stint at rehab is like the rest of his public life, nothing but a show. If Manziel needs help and is actually willing to turn his focus toward football and not partying with LeBron, then this was a smart decision entering the off-season. But if this is some publicity stunt or ploy to stay relevant in the headlines, his football career will quickly diminish like many of the NCAA stars before him.

If Manziel doesn’t take his self-adjustment seriously, he will shortly follow the same trajectory as former Michigan State star Charles Rogers. Rogers, drafted as the second overall pick in 2003 by the Detroit Lions, had everything going for him. Talent, drive, passion, and work-ethic were all qualities the receiver entered the NFL with. In his début, he became the first rookie in the franchise history to catch 2 touchdown passes — undeniable talent. Just as quickly as his stardom rose, in just three short seasons, Rogers watched his career go up in flames after failing numerous drug tests.

Some people will argue that it was the upbringing of these young athletes’ lives that are to blame. Whether they’re coming from nothing to suddenly having everything, or they’ve always had everything and think they can continue to do as they always have. But personally, I blame the league. The league was the one that released Rogers from any practice responsibility during his injuries, ultimately leading him to daily use of marijuana. And in the end, it was the league that didn’t come down harder on Manziel after it found him beyond intoxicated in his home the morning of a game. Maybe it’s not the kids to blame — they’re 20-something guys who just want to live a little. Maybe, just maybe, the NFL is the enabler with too many exceptions and not enough expectations.


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