Johnny Football’s PR Saga

Johnny Football’s PR Saga

I’m a Cleveland Browns fan. Given the poor play of the last decade and a half, it’s a wonder why. Many fans’ frustrations don’t stem from on-field play alone; lately it’s been from the decision making of the one who was supposed to save us (as all first round draft pick quarterbacks are), Johnny Football Manziel.

Manziel, well known party boy and Heisman Trophy winner, was selected by the Browns in 2014 and from the onset, the public was torn. But PR folks everywhere were likely left shaking their heads.

Given the young man’s bad boy reputation, would the risk be worth the reward? Would he breathe fervor back into Cleveland, just like the mighty one, LeBron James? Or would he be a perpetual headache for the Browns’ PR team?

Turns out, it’s the latter. Sadly, Johnny Football has spent his time as a Brown partying, sitting the bench, chugging champagne while riding an inflatable swan, playing a few quarters, going to rehab to “better himself,” being named starter, accused of domestic violence by his girlfriend, starting, chugging champagne again, and, finally, being demoted to third string quarterback.

The kid has a knack for being photographed and videotaped every time he touches alcohol. The microscope has been so close it could burn a hole in him on a hot day.

Is it simply too much to ask a 22-year-old to behave like a professional? Maybe. But plenty of others have done it successfully.

From a PR perspective, what does keeping a player like that around say about an organization? Does it paint the picture of a team that, despite mountains of negative press and criticism, supports its players until the end? Or has the desperation to be relevant again clouded judgement so much that the team can’t bear to cut him loose even if it means finally talking about football more than Johnny Football?

Laura Scharfeld