CLEVELAND -- Seemingly every chance he got, former Cleveland Browns quarterback Johnny Manziel left the team’s training facility in Berea and headed to the airport, where he boarded a plane to Las Vegas, Austin, Texas, or some other party destination.
During his two years with the Browns, Manziel made more appearances in the tabloids for his partying exploits than he did starts in the National Football League, and the good times kept rolling for the quarterback despite the looming release from his first professional team, as he and wide receiver Josh Gordon took in UFC 196 together in Las Vegas last weekend.
Manziel was officially waived Friday morning.
“We've been clear about expectations for our players on and off the field,” Sashi Brown, the Browns’ Executive Vice President of Football Operations, said in a statement earlier in the offseason. “Johnny's continual involvement in incidents that run counter to those expectations undermines the hard work of his teammates and the reputation of our organization. His status with our team will be addressed when permitted by league rules. We will have no further comment at this time.”
Earlier in the offseason, Manziel was reportedly partying with more than a dozen women and some close friends at a private villa in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, and that happened a week after an alleged assault of his ex-girlfriend, Colleen Crowley.
The partying started moments after being drafted by the Browns and have not slowed up since.
After a much-publicized trip to Las Vegas over the Memorial Day weekend in 2014 that saw Manziel partying poolside with New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski, sitting cageside at a UFC pay-per-view fight and spraying champagne from a stage onto a crowd of people at a nightclub, he returned to his home state of Texas.
While in Texas, Manziel took in an NBA Finals game between the San Antonio Spurs and Miami Heat and was photographed riding an inflatable swan in a swimming pool at a nightclub while sipping a bottle of champagne.
“It’s summertime,” former Browns wide receiver Nate Burleson said at the time. “Everybody else gets to enjoy summertime. I don’t know if it’s because we signed up as NFL players. We’ve only got a small window to really enjoy ourselves. I wouldn’t necessarily use the word forgiving because that would kind of imply that he’s doing something wrong.
“I just think he’s a guy that’s going out and enjoying his free time. If he came out here stumbling around, smelling like booze, we could have this conversation. That would be a legitimate conversation to have. He’s coming out here focused, very alert, tight, locked in on what he’s doing. Until that changes, I think everybody should just let the young guy do what young guys do and that’s enjoy life.”
Following an offseason of partying across the country after the Browns selected him with the No. 22 overall pick in the 2014 NFL Draft, Manziel had a meeting with then-coach Mike Pettine and general manager Ray Farmer and described everybody as being on the same page.
Manziel admitted to making “rookie mistakes” at the time, but his exploits continued with him holding a stack of cash to his ear pretending to talk on a “money phone,” as well as a controversial photo of him rolling up a dollar bill in a bathroom.
After the first practice of training camp at team headquarters in Berea last season, Browns owner Jimmy Haslam addressed Manziel’s partying and said “we’ll see” if the message delivered to him actually sunk in.
“I think Johnny said it well, he made some rookie mistakes,” Haslam said at the time. “The really great athletes make their news on the field, not off the field, and hopefully, he can look at guys like LeBron and (Tom) Brady and Peyton (Manning) and (Derek) Jeter and pattern himself after those guys who make their news on the field, not off the field.
“We expect better from him. I’m sure he’ll perform and now, we’re anxious to see what he can do on the field, which is what really counts.”
And when it counted, Manziel completed just 147 of his 258 throws for 1,675 yards and seven touchdowns against five interceptions in 14 games for the Browns.