BEREA— Johnny Manziel came to the building in Berea on Tuesday afternoon as the Browns’ starter, but left as Cleveland’s third option under center.
It was clear from the moment Mike Pettine started answering questions about the video in which Manziel appeared over the bye week, that the Browns were looking to somehow discipline the quarterback.
Mere hours later, the move was made.
In his statement on Tuesday, Mike Pettine said that the Browns were severely disappointed in the actions of Manziel, especially with him having made such strides in his personal life from a year ago, and would only support him in his continued journey to get his act together off the field.
Though it was a move the Browns were essentially forced to make— with Manziel’s involvement in 10 weeks of rehab, in an October 10 incident with his girlfriend and in a recent trip to College Station— the decision to bench Manziel begets a question.
"Is this the best move for the development of Johnny Manziel?"
Now that he’s a third-string quarterback that will have seemingly little on-field involvement for the near future, will Manziel find his way towards the straight-and-narrow path that the Browns want for him?
Or will his demotion come crashing down upon him like a ton of bricks, pushing him further and further into his life of partying?
While the answer to the aforementioned questions are currently unknown, the manner in which Manziel responds to this news will prove, once and for all, if he’s cut out for this league and all it entails.
If he’s truly ready to embrace the NFL lifestyle, Manziel will take this demotion to heart.
He’ll take it as a sign that he’s not nearly as far along in his personal life as he thought he was and that he still needs to continue to work on cultivating an environment of individuals that are more interested in the success of Jonathan Paul Manziel, the human being, than they are in the success of Johnny Football, the party-going demigod.
He’ll do more than he’s asked by the Browns to do, rather than exactly what he’s asked to do.
Maybe, he’ll even admit to himself that the first round of rehab might not have been enough.
If he’s not ready, however, he’ll continue to pretend as if his off-field issues are solved, while he merely sips champagne less often than he would’ve in years' past.
He’ll continue to surround himself with those who want to take part in the celebrity lifestyle that comes with any involvement in the former Heisman-Trophy winner, rather than those looking out for his best interest.
He’ll perpetuate the lie that he's told to himself and to his family: he can continue to enjoy the luxuries of the life of Johnny Football, all the while playing successfully as an NFL quarterback.
Of the two options that Manziel's been presented, at face value, one is not “better” than the other.
Sure, being a successful NFL quarterback has its perks, but there is, in fact, far more work and far more self-sacrifice in that position than in living as the legend of “Johnny Football.”
Johnny won’t be better or worse for making either decision, but the fact is that a decision must be made.
Mike Pettine, with the backing of the Browns, has delivered an ultimatum to the quarterback.
If he wants to be the man the Browns want him to be, they’ll welcome him back with open arms and full support.
If he wants to continue be the person that he’s been, he’ll pushed right out of town.
No matter the decision, Manziel is solely responsible for which future will be his.
For all of your Browns news and updates from Berea, follow Hayden Grove on Twitter: @H_Grove.