Who’s up for some more Johnny Football? Because if you believe him, Johnny Manziel is working his way back to the NFL. Yes, still.
Manziel, the Heisman-winning, football-slinging wunderkind who rocketed straight to the top of the nation’s sports consciousness—and straight out of a job after just 15 games in the NFL—has fallen into something of a predictable routine: get caught on social media doing something stupid, then claim that he still wants an NFL job. Repeat ad infinitum.
Right now, we’re on the “we’re having comeback conversations” swing of the Manziel news cycle. At a fantasy football convention over the weekend, Manziel claimed that there were several NFL teams that had shown an interest in him.
“I think they are taking it slow, and so am I,” he said. “I know the situation that I put myself in. I know the year I took off and obviously the mistakes that I made. Right now, I’m hopeful. I’m really hopeful.”
We could say that Manziel’s conversations with the NFL may well have consisted of him dialing the front desk and getting sent to voicemail. But all cheap shots aside, it’s impossible to read Manziel’s thoughts on his current state and not feel a twinge of … something? Pity?
“I think the thing I realized over the last year and the thing I realized from being away from it is really how much you miss it,” he said, per the Dallas Morning News’s Jon Machota. “That’s all I’ve known for so long. It’s what I love to do. It’s hard.”
The more hardcore toughen-up-buttercup among us will say that Manziel’s plight is of his own design, that he’s out of the league for reasons relating to both talent (seven touchdowns and seven interceptions over two seasons) and attitude. But here’s where the burden falls on Manziel. If he really wants back in—if he really wants to play football, rather than talk about how much he wants to play football—prove it. Go play in the Canadian Football League, get some reps on a bigger field, demonstrate to NFL scouts that he’s willing to sacrifice whatever comfort he still has to take one last shot at this. Say what you will about Tim Tebow, the guy kept throwing himself into bottom-rung NFL situations (and, now, bottom-rung baseball situations) to demonstrate his willingness to get back in the game.
Otherwise, the next swing of the news cycle ends with Manziel getting caught doing something stupid. If he wants to prove everyone wrong, then prove ’em wrong.
Jay Busbee is a writer for Yahoo Sports and the author of EARNHARDT NATION, on sale now at Amazon or wherever books are sold. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or find him on Twitter or on Facebook.