It was one of those “if-I-had-a-dime-for-every-time-I-heard-something-like-that” moments when I first read of Johnny Manziel’s weekend in Las Vegas.
A member of the Cleveland Browns drawing attention for something done off the field? No way.
Seriously, folks, if Manziel’s latest venture into the public spotlight surrounded by bikini-clad women and the glitter of Las Vegas excites you, then you need a hobby. On a scale of outlandish moments committed by a Browns player, Johnny-by-the-pool photos don’t deserve to be mentioned.
In my 30-plus years of covering the Browns, I’ve described enough of the lives of NFL players gone wild to write a book. None top the time I heard that Don Rogers had died of a cocaine overdose prior to his wedding in 1985. Rogers was a freakishly big safety who would have been a perennial Pro Bowler, but his death put an end to his NFL career after his rookie season.
Since the Browns returned to the NFL in 1999, there have been numerous player actions that had to make management types cringe. Remember when defensive lineman Gerard Warren was arrested in Pittsburgh for carrying a non-registered weapon? Team president Carmen Policy smoothed it over when he said that Pittsburgh police claimed Warren was one of the nicest persons they’d ever arrested.
Then there were the life and times of running back William Green, a first-round pick (2002) one year after Warren was selected third overall. Green battled off-the-field problems that eventually led to being the victim of a stabbing incident by his fiance.
The Browns thought enough of tight end Kellen Winslow to pass on quarterback Ben Roethlisberger and select him sixth overall in the 2004 draft. They didn’t know they were getting a dare-devil motorcyclist who decided to take his crotch rocket and attempt an endo (rear wheel off the ground) in a parking lot. Winslow crashed the cycle, lost the entire 2005 season and has never been the same.
A year ago at this time, reporters were writing about what a good veteran influence receiver Davone Bess would be to the younger receivers on the roster. That was before the love Bess had for marijuana led to some strange behavior and a ticket out of town.
Whatever Bess told fellow receivers Josh Gordon and Greg Little apparently didn’t sink in. Both players used the Cleveland highway system as an asphalt version of the Bonneville Salt Flats. Little was once stopped for driving 127 mph.
The list of events that took place pre-1999 is lengthy. I recall sitting in the press box at Cleveland Stadium in 1989 watching an Indians game when learning that running back Kevin Mack had been arrested for possession of drugs. I drove straight from the stadium to the police station.
In the early 1980s, running back Dwight Walker received a DUI ticket while returning home after 2 a.m. Asked the next day what Walker was doing out so late, coach Sam Rutigliano said, “He wasn’t coming back from the library.”
There was one event that happened during Art Modell’s early tenure as owner for which we’ll never know the answer. Modell told a group of reporters that he once had to talk a gun out of the hand of a player who planned on using it on another player. Modell put the gun in a desk drawer and left it there for years.
Is there a need to continue? You should get the idea by now that what Manziel did last weekend is mild compared to happenings of the more distant past. That could change if Manziel’s partying lifestyle doesn’t slow down.
For now, fans shouldn’t care what Manziel does on weekends, until September arrives.