Amazing Tales Of “The King’s Pass”: The Johnny Manziel Saga

To refresh your memory, from the Ethics Alarms Rationalizations list:Ethics Alarms Rationalizations list:

11. The King’s Pass, The Star Syndrome, or “What Will We Do Without Him?”

One will often hear unethical behavior excused because the person involved is so important, so accomplished, and has done such great things for so many people that we should look the other way, just this once. This is a terribly dangerous mindset, because celebrities and powerful public figures come to depend on it. Their achievements, in their own minds and those of their supporters and fans, have earned them a more lenient ethical standard. This pass for bad behavior is as insidious as it is pervasive, and should be recognized and rejected whenever it raises its slimy head.  In fact, the more respectable and accomplished an individual is, the more damage he or she can do through unethical conduct, because such individuals engender great trust. Thus the corrupting influence on the individual of The King’s Pass leads to the corruption of others.

There was good news on the King’s Pass front, when reports emerged that the Philadelphia Philllies decided to spend their “crazy money” on free agent outfielder Bryce Harper rather than free agent infielder Manny Machado because of Machado’s unsportsmanlike conduct during the recent post-season and his excusing his loafing to first  in a game by saying that he “wasn’t Johnny Hustle.” Since Harper’s ridiculous contract from Philly ended up being 30 million dollars more than Machado’s ridiculous contract with the San Diego Padres,  one could conclude that Machado ‘s conduct, which would get a lesser player benched, demoted, traded for a bag of peanuts or released, at least cost the jerk 30 million dollars.


But with the King’s Pass, such episodes are rare. Yesterday we learned that alleged football star quarterback—his nickname is “Johnny Football”—Johnny Manzeil was released from the Canadian Football League. The CFL wouldn’t give details, saying only he had “contravened the agreement which made him ineligible to play in the league,” but since it was known that the agreement included weekly therapy appointments, mandatory doctor visits and monthly Lithium tests, it doesn’t take a genius to figure out what happened: Johnny happened. Here’s a summary of Manziel’s “controversies” from Wikipedia:

June 2012 arrest

On June 29, 2012—before he was chosen as Texas A&M’s starting quarterback and before his first college game—Manziel was arrested and charged with three misdemeanors—disorderly conduct, failure to produce identification, and possession of a fictitious driver’s license. These charges stemmed from a late-night fight…In July 2013, he pleaded guilty to failure to produce identification, and the other two charges were dismissed.

…After the incident, Manziel eventually regained the favor of his team and head coach…and was named the starting quarterback… When reporters asked about the incident during his first press conference on November 27, Manziel stated that he had learned from the mistake and “had to make a lot of changes in [his] life.”[146][147]

2013 offseason

During the 2013 offseason at Texas A&M, Manziel drew significant media attention over his behavior off the field. Notable incidents include his early departure from the Manning Passing Academy after allegedly oversleeping, tweeting that he “can’t wait to leave College Station” after receiving a parking ticket, and getting kicked out of a fraternity party…ESPN reported that the NCAA was investigating whether Manziel accepted payments for autographs that he had signed in January 2013. The NCAA did not find any evidence that Manziel accepted money for the autographs, but reached an agreement with Texas A&M to suspend him for the first half of the season opener against Rice University, due to an “inadvertent violation” of NCAA rules.

2015 offseason

On February 4, Manziel entered a treatment program for unspecified reasons. On May 30, Manziel was involved in an incident with a heckler at a   golf tournament. The heckler had been continually asking for an autograph, to the point that Manziel became fed up and threw a water bottle at the man. The water bottle missed the heckler. Security and police were called, but no charges were filed.

2015 season

Manziel was pulled over by a policeman after fighting in his car with his then girlfriend, Colleen Crowley. Although no charges were made, Manziel admitted to having had some alcoholic drinks earlier that afternoon…On November 24, a week after Manziel was announced as the NFL C;eveland Browns’ starter for the remainder of the season, head coach Mike Pettine demoted Manziel to third string after a video of him partying surfaced on the Internet….It was later revealed Manziel reportedly lied about the video… Manziel was seen at a Las Vegas casino the night before the Browns played their final game of the 2015 season. Manziel was scratched from the final game because of a concussion. …The next day, Manziel failed to report to the Browns on Sunday morning when he was supposed to report to the team medic, which all players with concussions are supposed to do.


On January 6, 2016, Manziel’s marketing agency, LRMR, announced that it would no longer work with Manziel. Manziel’s agent, Erik Burkhardt, also announced that he would no longer represent Manziel. On February 5, 2016, the Dallas Police Department announced that they were opening a criminal investigation with a claim of domestic violence involving his ex-girlfriend, Colleen Crowley. Dallas police had originally closed the case, but re-opened it with allegations stemming from an altercation on January 30, 2016, at a downtown Dallas hotel. According to Crowley, Manziel forced her into a car, pulled her by the hair, and threatened to kill both her and himself. On April 24, Manziel was indicted by a Dallas grand jury on misdemeanor assault charges for the incident.

On April 19, 2016, after just two months of representing him, agent Drew Rosenhaus terminated Manziel as a client, marking the first time in Rosenhaus’ 27-year career he fired an NFL player.On the same day, Nike ended its sponsorship with Manziel.[166]

On June 24, 2016, Manziel’s attorney, Bob Hinton, accidentally sent a lengthy text message to the AP relating to Manziel’s defense in his domestic violence case. In the message, Hinton expressed concerns about Manziel’s ability to stay clean, saying that he was given a receipt that suggests Manziel spent around $1,000 at The Gas Pipe, a drug paraphernalia store. On the same day, Manziel’s father, Paul, told ESPN: “He’s a druggie. It’s not a secret that he’s a druggie. Hopefully, he doesn’t die before he comes to his senses. I mean, I hate to say it, but I hope he goes to jail. I mean, that would be the best place for him. I’m doing my job, and I’m going to move on. If I have to bury him, I’ll bury him.”

On June 30, 2016, he was suspended for the first four games of the 2016 season for violating the NFL’s substance abuse policy. On December 2, 2016, Manziel and prosecutors finalized a plea agreement in which Manziel agreed to undergo counseling and have his conduct monitored by prosecutors for up to a year or face prosecution.

Apparently Wikipedia got tired of updating Johnny’s page. Now kicked out of the NFL and the CFL, a new pro league is thinking about signing Johnny Football, and here is how USA Today reported it, in part: here is how USA Today reported it, in part:

It’s no surprise Johnny Manziel’s sudden availability was cause for great celebration around the AAF (Alliance of American Football). Johnny Football would be the ultimate addition for the upstart league….Before anybody whips out a contract and a pen, however, be warned: You don’t know who you’re getting. Will it be Johnny Manziel, who last summer spoke earnestly of prioritizing his mental health and the costly lessons he’d learned from when he didn’t? Or will it be Johnny Football, whose boozed-up escapades and immaturity sent him crashing out of the NFL two years after he was a first-round pick?

Gee, I think it will be Johnny Manziel, certified asshole, who has been behaving the same way since college, but teams keep signing him and giving him money, sending the rest of the team, football, kids and the world that if you have talent, you can get away with almost anything, or at least get an endless number of “second chances.”

The other news? Manziel’s wife was accused of cheating in a half-marathon, and lying about her time.

Come on, AAF, sign him up! What are you waiting for?

32 thoughts on “Amazing Tales Of “The King’s Pass”: The Johnny Manziel Saga

  1. Manziel’s the one-n-only NFL client ever dumped by Drew Rosenhaus?

    Now THAT’S signature significance!

    It’s not too much of a stretch to say the same thing about Rosenhaus that Mickey Morrissey (Jack Warden in The Verdict) said about James Mason’s Ed Concannon:

    He’s the Prince of Fuckin’ Darkness

  2. I’ve known a few like him over the years, and his type is invariably smooth talking master manipulators. They get multiple chances because they are borderline sociopaths who know what to say and how to say it to prove “that was the last time; I’ve changed.” For some reason, people continue to fall for their nonsense.

    • I think this Manzell is either bi-polar or paranoid schizophrenic. Either way, he refuses to take his prescription meds, preferring alcohol and illicit drugs. I find his story to be not so much about the King’s Pass (which it is) as about untreated (untreatable?) mental illness in people walking among us. Very sad, but a huge problem. But nothing new. How much of history isn’t wrought by, or as the result of, just plain crazy-assed people with certain skills who are given the keys to the car and access to the levers of power?

      • I don’t think it’s mental illness; it really is the epitome of the kings pass over and over all his life. He was the star player in high school where he could do no wrong, then to the star player in college where he was worshipped. He was the ultimate spoiled brat.

        • But TS, he’s much worse off than just spoiled. He clearly has some sort of addictive body type problem. He can’t moderate his behavior. He’s dealing with a metabolic problem. He’s trying to medicate himself with dope and alcohol. He’s obviously got a quick twitch body but he’s also got a quick twitch mind as well. His father has given up on him. I bet the problem runs in the family. I bet his father saw the same behavior in his father or his brother (Johnny’s grand father or uncle). Being talented or bright can be a double edges sword.

          • OB, I would point out that both you and TS could be right. Neither of your positions are mutually exclusive.

            • Of course he’s spoiled, he’s a high performance jock. But it’s his mental illness that has proved debilitating. That’s my point. All high performance jocks are catered to and spoiled from childhood, but not all of them go completely off the rails, d_d. Si?

          • He can’t moderate or just doesn’t want to? Just because other top athletes don’t end up the same way may just mean they choose to utilize some self control. Yes I know addiction and alcoholism can be difficult to break, but it requires a will to do so. I’ve not seen any desire from him to change?

            • I think mental illnesses are much more overwhelming than people tend to realize. We don’t expect people with heart disease to shape up and get over it. Brain diseases are not moral failings. The brain malfunctions just like any other bodily organ. And it’s a very, very powerful organ. And trust me, you’re not going to shame Johnny Manziel into “changing his ways.” His father knows that. Johnny Football’s problems are not fixable by simply changing his attitude or scolding him. He’s a marginally functioning mess. He’s not a sinner who has yet to see the light or the error of his ways.

                • Yeah, well …. Actually, I think he was a marginal at best passer a la Colin Kaepernick. He was more a scat back escape artist like Kaepernick. Which came into vogue in the NFL as quickly as it went out of vogue. Running quarterbacks don’t do well when they are tackled by defensive behemouths. And injured quarterbacks are expensive. Even if he had been able to show up for work, he was a fad that has come and went. Kind of a double whammy for him.

  3. I saw a headline that the AAF would be looking into why he left the CFL before offering him a position.

    Considering that getting him would be a major coup for the AAF, which has essentially nobody anyone’s ever heard of, I think this shows sound business and PR acumen on the AAF’s part, which is unexpected, because they thought the AAF was a good idea.

  4. Actually, all things considered, this is not a good example if the King’s Pass.

    Maybe it was in the beginning, as he moved from high school through college. But, he reached his high point on his entry in the NFL. He reached the point where second chances are harder to come by and he was not sufficiently royal to get those chances anymore.

    Sadly, he never learned to adjust and he has addiction problems that he can’t beat


  5. Got halfway through the post before I got stuck.

    Manziel’s attorney, Bob Hinton, accidentally sent a lengthy text message to the AP . . .

  6. Ok, I knew Johnny before he was Mr. Football, and he has had a silver spoon since the day he was born. As an Aggie, I was both thrilled and ashamed when he played for us, and was relieved when he left, as sometimes success comes at too high a price.

    My local high school team was headed to State the year Johnny was a senior at Kerrville. The day of the game, Johnny was arrested for shoplifting (the kid was filthy rich, so this was a thrill crime) at the Kerrville Walmart, the story goes. Daddy made it go away (a UIL violation by itself) in time for Johnny to single handedly walk all over our team. Our area still seethes when news Mr. Football surfaces.

    He is also a laughing stock: kid had the world by the tail, and cannot grow up enough to take care of business. Sad story.

    • It is sad. But his parents caused this, and he is perpetuating it. I have no sympathy. Dad is just a smidgen late with the ‘tough love’.

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