By Ashley Dunkak
CBS DETROIT – Baltimore Ravens coach John Harbaugh began his time with the Ravens by leading the team to five straight playoff appearances in a run that culminated in a Super Bowl victory in 2012. Following an 8-8 season in 2013, the Ravens have seen four of their players arrested this offseason, with others asked to leave a bar for being too intoxicated.
Harbaugh spoke about his disappointment regarding the situation, and as I read his remarks, I thought about Johnny Manziel, the universally loved-or-hated Heisman Trophy winner from Texas A&M who is now the third-string quarterback for the Cleveland Browns.
Manziel got arrested in college for getting in a fight after his friend allegedly used a racial slur, and the quarterback also got in trouble in that incident for having multiple fake IDs on him. He got scrutinized for taunting opponents on the field – jawing, pointing at the scoreboard, doing the show-me-the-money gesture that he has made his signature move.
Manziel has lashed out on Twitter. He caused a stir when he ostensibly overslept (you can infer the other possible reason) and missed meetings at the Manning Passing Academy. Most visibly and continuously, Manziel has partied hard in various locales with all kinds of other hard-partying celebrities, most recently New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski.
All that aside, of course, Manziel proved himself a phenomenal college football player. He could well do the same in the NFL, though that is obviously still to be seen.
Back to Harbaugh. According to ESPN, in analyzing the problems of his own players, he said 90 percent of the issues could be attributed to alcohol. He also suggested athletes avoid late-night partying. Here are a few nuggets from the Super Bowl winner.
“That is not what I would call effective training method right there to go out and drink too much. We expect those guys to chase a high standard and we’re going to do everything we can to hold them accountable.”
“We think everything that you do off the field has an impact on what you do on the field, and vice versa. Discipline is not a like a light switch. You can’t walk out of this building, and all of a sudden, turn it off and walk back and turn it on.”
“Discipline is a way of life. It’s pretty hard to be successful in any walk of life without great self-discipline. When [a lack of discipline] starts showing up in other areas of your life, to me that’s a major red flag for where you’re going as a football player.”
Last year, Harbaugh referenced the old adage, “Nothing good happens after midnight.”
Has Manziel violated any of those cautions by Harbaugh? Like most discussions about Manziel, it has several different angles.
Some people hate Manziel’s antics. Others find his actions perfectly logical. Heck, he might be a hotter commodity now than he ever will be again, depending on whether he succeeds in the NFL or flops. Maybe he is right to take advantage. Maybe not.
Manziel is hardly the only athlete who parties. Plenty of guys do. Manziel hasn’t done anything illegal, at least not since that bar fight a couple of years ago. Of course, when trouble does happen – bar fights, shootings, DUIs, etc. – it often happens in the vicinity of a club.
Legally, there is nothing wrong with going out and getting hammered with a bunch of other people who are hammered. Even less objectionable is the idea of going out and staying in control while other people are getting out of control. However, putting oneself in those kind of environments tends to make the odds go up that one will be involved in a bad situation eventually.
That point, it seems, was the one Harbaugh was making when he said athletes should avoid late-night partying and when he cited the midnight cutoff.
Manziel, with plenty of learning to do still as he transitions from college to the NFL, might be wise to listen.