Dec 20, 2015; Seattle, WA, USA; Cleveland Browns quarterback Johnny Manziel (2) warms up before the start of a game against the Seattle Seahawks at CenturyLink Field. Mandatory Credit: Troy Wayrynen-USA TODAY Sports
2. Johnny Manziel
Love him or hate him, Johnny Manziel is one of the most polarizing and controversial figures in Cleveland sports history.
His status as college’s football’s biggest celebrity only increased after being drafted by the Browns–a team searching for a franchise saving quarterback ever since team’s NFL re-birth in 1999.
Manziel went into training camp battling Cleveland St. Ignatius product Brian Hoyer, and the duo gelled together about as well as oil and water. Hoyer had his own aspirations: to prove he could start in the NFL–and he had little interest in holding Manziel’s hand.
Manziel on the other hand, waisted his rookie season, opting to to enjoy the celebrity perks that came with being a Heisman Trophy winner in a quarterback worshiping town, such as Cleveland.
Future Hall of Fame left tackle Joe Thomas described Manziel’s rookie season as “abysmal.”
Manziel made two disastrous starts in 2015, before ending his season with a hamstring injury against the Carolina Panthers in Week 16. The next week, Manziel was late for scheduled treatment to the injury. That same weekend, Manziel threw a party attended by several Browns’ players. The infamous party led to Josh Gordon to “violating team rules”, and he was suspended by the front office for final week of the season.
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Manziel entered rehab for an undisclosed problem following the season. Although he never officially stated why, it’s believed Manziel received treatment for alcohol abuse. He came to the team’s 2015 NFL training camp appearing to be a new man. His transformation was short-lived though, as halfway through the season, police responded to a call where Manziel was publicly arguing with his girlfriend. Manziel admitted to drinking a small amount during the day, but wasn’t charged with any crimes.
The cloud of controversy surrounding the Texas A&M product continued in November of the 2015 season, when Manziel reportedly lied to–and tried to cover up–his bye week adventures–after a video of him rapping and holding a bottle of Dom Perignone leaked onto social media.
The Browns reprimanded Manziel by taking his starting job away, and Johnny was forced to take in the Browns’ infamous “Pick 6” Monday Night Football loss from the sidelines.
Manziel showed improvement during his second year, but the jury’s still out. Manziel is still trying to show he’s worthy of being an NFL starter, while the fan base contemplates whether or not he can be the future of the Browns.
“Johnny Football” may turn out to be good–he may not. But this one thing is certain: Cleveland’s never seen anything like him–and that makes him one of the town’s most controversial athletes.
Next: Albert Belle