Johnny Manziel Wound up With the Cleveland Browns Because of a Homeless Man

The 2014 marriage between Johnny Manziel and the Cleveland Browns in 2014 had the instant makings for disaster.

What Manziel, the charismatic former Heisman Trophy winner, needed in the NFL was stability. The word “stability” is as foreign to the modern Cleveland Browns as “winning” and “postseason” are.

Although there was optimism the night Manziel joined Cleveland in May 2014, those hopes should have been shattered when Browns owner Jimmy Haslam explained what made him sold on drafting Texas A&M’s star quarterback.

Johnny Manziel won a Heisman Trophy at Texas A&M

Johnny Manziel became instant must-watch TV when he took the starting reins at Texas A&M in 2012. 

A dynamic dual-threat quarterback, Manziel completed 68% of his passes for 3,706 yards, 26 touchdowns, and nine interceptions for the Aggies that year. Manziel also ran for 1,410 yards and 21 touchdowns, numbers that earned him the Heisman Trophy

Texas A&M famously upset No. 1 Alabama on the road that November. Alabama still rebounded to defeat Notre Dame in the national championship game. 

As Manziel’s persona grew, he still remained one of the nation’s top quarterbacks. Manziel hit nearly 70% of his passes in 2013 for 4,114 yards, 37 touchdowns, and 13 interceptions in 2013. 

Manziel ran for another 759 yards and nine touchdowns.

Cleveland credited a homeless man for making them draft Manziel

Few doubted Johnny Manziel could play, especially at the college level.

The NFL, however, was a different story. Concerns about Manziel’s size (he officially clocked in at 6 feet) and maturity followed him to the NFL.

As the NFL’s first round in May 2014 kept going, Manziel remained on the board. Although Dallas owner Jerry Jones intended to draft Manziel, others in the room eventually talked him into selecting future All-Pro guard Zack Martin.

It wasn’t until the 22nd overall pick when Cleveland drafted Manziel. So who had the final say on the Browns drafting Manziel?

According to CBS Sports, ESPN’s Sal Paolantonio relayed a conversation he and Browns owner Jimmy Haslam had regarding Manziel.

Haslam told Paolantonio about a night he spent in Cleveland and how he received draft advice from a stranger.

“Here in Cleveland, every where I go people know me. And I was out to dinner recently and a homeless person was out on the street, looked up at me and said ‘Draft Manziel.'”

And there you have it.

Johnny Manziel flamed out in Cleveland


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On-field struggles, coupled with off-field problems, meant Johnny Manziel lasted just two years in the NFL.

Manziel completed 57% of his passes in 14 games (eight starts) for 1,675 yards, seven touchdowns, and seven interceptions. He also ran for 259 yards and a touchdown on 5.6 yards per carry.

Cleveland ultimately cut Manziel after the 2015 season because he couldn’t stay out of trouble and needed to address his personal demons.

Manziel returned to football in 2018, when he played for the Canadian Football League’s Hamilton Tiger-Cats. He also played for the CFL’s Montreal Alouettes.

Manziel’s last football action came for the Alliance of American Football’s Birmingham Iron in March 2019. Unfortunately for Manziel, the league suspended operations three days after he debuted.

Although Manziel turns 28 in December, his career is seemingly over for the time being. Manziel even told TMZ in September that he’s retired.

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