Former Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel had the college football career that dreams are made of: millions of adoring fans, Heisman Trophy winner, media and celebrities all abuzz. After drafting Manziel 22nd overall in the 2014 NFL Draft, the Cleveland Browns picked up the quarterback that everyone thought the Dallas Cowboys would scoop up when, and if, they could. As we know, it didn’t happen that way.
The problem at the time with Cleveland, the Browns already had a quarterback in hometown boy, Brian Hoyer. After attending St. Ignatius High School in Cleveland, Hoyer went on to play college football at the University of Michigan in 2004. While redshirting his freshman year, and after being asked to participate in the NFL Scouting Combine, Hoyer went unselected in the 2009 NFL Draft. The New England Patriots immediately picked up Hoyer as an unsigned free agent, keeping him on the squad as their preferred backup, but then cutting him during the preseason in 2012. Hoyer bounced around a bit from the Pittsburgh Steelers to the Arizona Cardinals, before landing back to his roots in Cleveland, Ohio in 2013.
After tearing his ACL last season during the Buffalo Bills matchup on Thursday Night Football, Hoyer’s two-win road to victory in Cleveland was abruptly cut short. Hoyer had said afterwards that he felt confident that his starting job was secure, ready and waiting for him in the 2014 season when he was once again healthy. But that was before Johnny Manziel aka Johnny Football came in to play.
Although Hoyer felt he rightfully earned the starting position, the quarterback situation was anyone’s guess in Cleveland after new head coach Mike Pettine’s nonsensical preseason talks of a two-quarterback system. In the Browns first game of the season versus the Pittsburgh Steelers at Heinz Field, Hoyer impressively led his team back from a three-touchdown deficit in the second half of the game. Hoyer’s resilient work was in vain, but not unnoticed, when Steelers kicker Shaun Suisham kicked a game-ending field goal for the win. It was a historic comeback despite the loss, and even more so with the absence of Josh Gordon and Jordan Cameron, two of the Browns best pass-catchers.
If system quarterback Brian Hoyer knows what’s good for him, he’ll play every game like it’s his last, because if Mr. Money Fingers has anything to say about it, it very well could be. It’s common knowledge that when any NFL team drafts a quarterback in the first round, expect to see the new guy getting some action in the coming season. Coach Pettine has given Manziel some plays to learn, so if his number gets called, he best be ready and have something remarkable to show for it.
Bottom line: Manziel and Hoyer could not be any more different if they tried, but both are looking for something to prove. Manziel never had to work for things the way that Hoyer did with a practically nonexistent professional career that no one really cared about. Hoyer wasn’t given a chance to shine until opportunity came calling when he got the jump over the second-string Jason Campbell last season. Manziel, on the other hand, came up in a life of oil money privilege with coaches and sportswriters alike praising his every move long before his trademarked name.
If Manziel is as smart as he thinks he is, he needs to realize the days of high school and college are a thing of the past. First thing, rip the silver spoon out of his mouth and keep his temper in check. This should become common practice if you don’t want to come across as an egotistical jerk. (And I know that there are people out there who think that he just doesn’t give a “flip,” so that’s why he behaves as such, but at the end of the day, show a little class). After the middle-finger raising childlike behavior in the preseason, Manziel only proved to his naysayers that he is nowhere near ready to perform at a professional level. Starting quarterback Brian Hoyer is smart, and scrappy, and has proven to everyone, including Manziel, that he won’t lie down easily. After last week’s performance by the Hometown Boy, it looks like the Boy Wonder’s bench seat just got a little warmer.