If you quiet Johnny Football, is there anything left to cheer?


Johnny Football doesn’t want to be Johnny Football anymore because of the distractions his party-boy image have caused him and the Cleveland Browns. That’s good thinking. Makes me want to flash a quick thumbs up.

Wait, we’re not doing hand signs anymore, or at least Johnny Manziel isn’t.

“The money sign will not be back,” Johnny told Browns reporters last week in a wide-ranging reassessment of personal goals. “I will not be making it out there.

“”I think at times Johnny Football probably took over me a little bit, too, and I bought into

CLEVELAND, OH - JUNE 4:  Rookie draft pick Johnny Manziel of the NFL Cleveland Browns acknowledges the crowd prior to the game between the Cleveland Indians and the Boston Red Sox along with other Brows rookies at Progressive Field on June 4, 2014 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)
CLEVELAND, OH – Johnny Manziel of the NFL Cleveland Browns acknowledges the crowd prior to a game last June between the Cleveland Indians and the Boston Red Sox. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)


Ten weeks in rehab gave Manziel plenty of time to think and grow during the offseason. Whether he truly is a different person will be proven, as always, in the public spotlight where Johnny lives. I suggest that he dispense in the meantime with all hand signals or symbolic gestures, no matter how benign.

After all that’s transpired at Texas A&M and in his rookie NFL season, they’ll only be misinterpreted and criticized in the media anyway.

For example:

Johnny flashes a “V” for victory: “I knew Winston Churchill,” writes a grumpy old columnist, “and you, sir, are no Winston Churchill.”

Johnny clasps his hands in a prayerful posture: “Now he’s trying to out-Tebow Tebow, like he’s some kind of choir boy,” shouts a talking head on a sports cable channel. “This guy has no shame.”

Johnny holds his index finger in the air while running to butt helmets with the tight end who just caught his preseason TD pass: “Might want to win the starting job, kid, before you start telling everybody you’re No. 1,” says the old columnist, still typing away.

Johnny waves and says “Hi, Mom,” when the TV camera finds him on the sidelines: “Classic,” spouts the talking head. “Still so immature he can’t focus on his profession for three lousy hours.”

Johnny stands tall and straight and sings along during the national anthem: “Can’t believe he even knows the words,” the columnist judges. “Sounds a little pitchy to me, too.”

Johnny runs up to give a postgame handshake to Peyton Manning or Tom Brady: “Perfect photo op,” warns the talking head. “He’ll be selling that selfie on his website tomorrow. Extra if it’s autographed.”

Johnny flaps his arms, asking the home crowd to pipe down while the Browns have the ball: “Oh, now he’s telling these fine, hard-working folks who are helping to pay his salary to shut up,” the columnist rails. “Maybe if just once in his life somebody had told him to shut up, to straighten up, to grow up, the Browns might have gotten something in return for that No. 1 draft pick.”

Johnny runs over to the front row to hand a football to a young fan: “Nice,” the talking head grows. “Do you have any idea how many germs on that thing after it’s been used in a game? I hope that kid’s had his shots, not that Johnny would care.”

Enough already with the exaggerations. You get the picture. Johnny Football is too strong a personality to wish away overnight. He did that to himself, and now wants to undo it.

I hope he can. Already one NFL season has been wasted on this foolishness.

One day it would be nice to see him flash the “OK” sign and know it wasn’t an act.