McMullen | Potential interest in Johnny Manziel is being overblown

FILE - In this Dec. 27, 2015, file photo, Cleveland Browns quarterback Johnny Manziel (2) throws during the first half of an NFL football game against the Kansas City Chiefs in Kansas City, Mo. Manziel's footwork, decision making and grasp of a pro offense improved significantly in his second season. But now that it is over, the Browns want him to concentrate on his off-field issues. (AP Photo/Ed Zurga, File)
AP Photo/Ed Zurga

When you’re unemployed the natural course forward is to play up the positive aspects of your background in order to secure the next paycheck.

That’s a problem for Johnny Manziel, the 22nd pick in the 2014 draft, who conned then-Cleveland Browns general manager Ray Farmer into believing his maturity level would catch up with a unique skill set once he turned professional.

Hindsight documents the opposite happened: The big money only sped up Manziel’s penchant for partying, which quickly derailed his reputation and now has a 24-year-old former Heisman Trophy winner trying to drum up interest at a fantasy football convention rather than gearing up to attend a training camp.

“I know the situation that I put myself in,” Manziel said at the National Fantasy Football Convention while taking with the Dallas Morning News. “I know the year I took off and obviously the mistakes that I made. Right now, I’m hopeful. I’m really hopeful. I think that I made some progress in that regard. But we’ll see. Whenever I get a call, I’ll do whatever I can to make the most of it.”

To his credit Manziel has stayed off the front page on TMZ in recent months and seems to be rebuilding a body ravaged by the substances he was abusing in the dark times.

However, those who are taking Manziel at face value after claiming he had a “couple of conversations” with NFL teams about returning to the league are overreacting.

Two NFL sources told FanRag Sports they are unaware of any real interest surrounding Manziel right now. Former league executive Joe Banner seconded that when he took to Twitter to talk some Colin Kaepernick advocates — who were upset over such a scenario — off the ledge.

Back in March you’ll recall a similar Manziel narrative being pushed, pointing to the story of Saints coach Sean Payton having breakfast with Manziel at the Super Bowl as some kind of legitimate interest. Turns out it was just Payton checking in with and encouraging a young man to continue his sobriety.

With training camps set to begin shortly around the country, and rosters already at the bloated offseason limit of 90, the fact that Manziel hasn’t been brought in as a camp arm somewhere — anywhere — speaks volumes to where he is relative to any potential comeback.

The better way back for him remains the CFL, or at least a shortened stint in the Spring League, but to date, Manziel seems to be holding out hope that the phone will ring if injuries crop up somewhere and desperation starts to take over.

Those who rubber stamp a disgraced player’s claims of interest as completely credible, however, simply don’t understand how NFL personnel matters work. It’s the agent’s job to drum up interest. Erik Burkhardt likely instructed Manziel to float the idea of a couple of phone calls, which can on occasion spark up things in a moribund market.

For Manziel, though, the positive part of this is on a much smaller scale: He’s showing up for things he’s scheduled for, all while staying away from the pitfalls that destroyed his first opportunity as an NFL player.

He still has plenty more to prove before he is afforded a second chance, though.

-John McMullen is a national football columnist for FanRagSports.com. You can reach him at jmcmullen44@gmail.com or on Twitter @JFMcMullen

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