Oh for the days it's just Johnny and football


It might be time to book a spot on the Johnny Manziel Advice Bandwagon.

Seats are filling up quickly. Heck, in the back, folks are leaning out the windows.

Those who wait lose their chance to offer life advice to a guy who is either (A) bacchanalian when it comes to being a party animal, or (B) just having a good time. The insight all depends on who is dispensing judgment.

It’s a bit odd that any judgment is being dispensed in the first place.

Manziel is a 21-year-old born into wealth who was the darling of college football for his play on the field and his celebrity off. Now that he is in the pros and doing the same things, everyone from Emmitt Smith to Vladimir Putin seems willing to offer advice.

The prevailing thinking is that Manziel is overdoing it off the field. In Smith’s words, he is doing things that shorten a career.

Brady Quinn went further (Brady Quinn?), saying Manziel was presenting an image that could not make Browns owner Jimmy Haslam happy.

Joe Montana dropped a Bill Walsh reference on Manziel.

And teammate Joe Haden advised that Manziel get a “phone valet” so people would stop taking his photos.

In fairness, the advisers are advising the advisee because they were asked a question about Manziel’s partying. So they answered. In some cases well.

The advice also has been earned, because Manziel is nothing if not consistent. Every weekend he appears somewhere with someone with some sort of bottle or beverage in his hand. The most disappointing -- and potentially troubling -- was Manziel using a profanity while holding what is called a “money phone” (a stack of cash), saying he couldn't hear people because he had so much you-know-what money in his hand. He referred to that video as "far in the past" on Friday, but he did not elaborate.

It might have been intended to be fun and part of the culture Manziel seems to enjoy, but it almost came across as taunting. Whether it was recorded in the last few weeks or years remains a mystery.

The tired, old excuses have all come out. Manziel is 21. He’s not breaking the law. Leave him alone. It’s only because there are cameras that we know about his partying.

Which all might be true.

But Manziel himself admits he knows he is going to be photographed wherever he goes. He does this stuff anyway.

Manziel will learn quickly -- if he hasn't already -- that he is responsible for his own actions, and there is nothing difficult about acting with class. Perhaps that will come with maturity.

But who knows?

Maybe Manziel enjoys this image he projects; he sure doesn't hide from it.

Maybe we are seeing the new-wave athlete, the legion of guys who rent nightclubs to throw birthday parties for themselves.

A lot of guys party, but it is hidden from public view, or at least hidden to the extent that it is not regular viewing like Manziel’s.

Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers, who is being photographed more now that he is dating actress Olivia Munn, said he thought Manziel was doing nothing wrong.

This is life with Johnny, and the Browns had to understand this would be part of drafting him.

But there is much we really don't know about Manziel at this point.

We don't know what kind of NFL player he will become. If he is a lifetime backup, the partying will wear out its welcome.

We don’t know if he’s surrounded by loyal friends or by enablers.

We don’t know if this lifestyle of his is purely an offseason thing that might stop when training camp starts. If Manziel can keep up this pace during the rigors of a training camp, it's time to see if he is bionic.

We also don't know how he will handle himself during the season, with curfews and the physical challenge of 16 weeks, plus a training camp and taking care of himself, all on his plate.

Finally, we don’t know if Manziel is one of those rare guys who can succeed with off-the-field revelry. It worked for Joe Namath and Bobby Layne.

The money phone thing might have looked distasteful, especially in a blue-collar town like Cleveland. But whether it matters in the long run is yet to be seen.

Manziel is an adult capable of making adult decisions. He might shock the world and make some wrong ones. Sometimes people do inexplicable things; witness “Dancing With the Stars.”

But we don't know how he will approach his job, or how he approaches it when he is not on the party scene. It’s a lot less interesting to photograph a guy lifting weights in the offseason than it is to photograph him at a party.

What we do know about Manziel in his short time as a Cleveland Brown is that everything is over the top, whether it’s being drafted by MLB or partying or advice dispensed to him or taking a snap at a rookie minicamp.

The start of training camp might bring a refreshing new world to Manziel mania. It might be all about football, without the revelry.

Because at that point, it will be about one simple reality: Can Manziel play in the NFL?