By Drew Friedman ‘16 and Michael Morgan ‘16
A sports icon. A person whose name and personality stifles his talent. A jersey that is going to flood the stands at FirstEnergy Stadium, but not touch the field. Johnny Football, #2, will remain #2 on the depth chart for now.
Drew Friedman: It has been a long time coming. Whether you’re a fan of Johnny Manziel or not, everyone agrees he has talent. Whether those skills are gone unnoticed is going to be the question. The Browns have only had two winning seasons in the past 15 years, making the playoffs in one of those. In the past two decades the Browns could be considered the worst franchise in all of sports. No team has had a worse record throughout the span. Manziel is their only hope, whether they want to believe it or not, but he is the quarterback of the future and shouldn’t be rushed in. Now that star receiver Josh Gordon is officially suspended for the entire 2014, it only makes more sense for the Browns to hold off on the party boy. The only issue with this is will the fans be patient and look towards the future like they have been doing for the past 20 years. Will Manziel be able to stay out of trouble while sidelined? Or will this team fall apart and be forced to get rid of #2 before he even steps on the field?
Regardless of what happens, the Browns organization loves the publicity, and are willing to take on this liability in order to stay afloat in an economically prosperous league. When its comes to the fans, well, they will just have to deal with continuing to look towards the future and risk sporting more paper bags.
Mike Morgan: What’s a football season in Cleveland without a quarterback controversy? The Browns are consistently faced with choosing between inexperience and mediocrity. Colt McCoy vs. Jake Delhomme. Brady Quinn vs. Derek Anderson. We’ve all seen this movie before. The Browns have started 20 different quarterbacks since returning to the league in 1999. That’s the most of any team in that time period. It’s almost like the Browns have a new man under center every time you blink an eye.
Moreover, the Browns have now drafted three quarterbacks 22nd overall in that timespan: the newly unemployed Brady Quinn, turnover machine Brandon Weeden, and most recently Johnny Manziel, the loose cannon himself.
Besides, banishing a first round quarterback to the sidelines is nothing new for the beginning of an NFL season. People often forget that Eli Manning sat behind Kurt Warner for 10 weeks of his rookie season. Now he has two Super Bowl rings. What about Aaron Rodgers? He manned the clipboard for three years while Brett Favre flip-flopped between return and retirement. Now Rodgers is tops in the league. The way I see it, the hype over Manziel’s position on the depth chart is nothing more than the animosity that will surround him until he cleans up his act.
Drew Friedman: Despite the statistics, I believe Manziel is a character of his own. If you look at those other players, none of them ever had any issues off the field, nor had as much hype as any Cleveland QB’s. I respect the learning process, and believe that for some QB’s, waiting their turn does turn them into a better player, but for Manziel no one can see what the future holds.
Mike Morgan: So if it were up to you, who would you start in Week 1?
Drew Friedman: Honestly, Manziel. What is the worst that could happen? He could go 2 for 14 and throw three interceptions and lose the game, but would that be any different than what the Cleveland fans have seen in the last two decades? TV ratings would skyrocket, and Cleveland would have the possibility of turning a new page on one of the worst sports franchises of all time.
Mike Morgan: I agree. Squaring off against the Steelers in Pittsburgh, I think Manziel could give Cleveland the spark their offense will need with Josh Gordon’s absence looming over their heads against a ferocious defense. There is a good chance Manziel will underperform, but there is a slight chance he could turn this franchise around. Besides, knowing Manziel’s antics, if he has a rough game then he’ll be quick to find the nearest bar in downtown Pittsburgh to take his mind off of it.