The “football gods” spoke again this past weekend. Ohio was toppled from a consecutive weekend trifecta as the undisputed ruler of college and professional football.
The overtime loss by the Cleveland Browns to the Denver Broncos can be credited to karma. Bad behavior usually equates to problematic consequences.
Ignoring a glaring issue has ramifications. A Columbus Day incident which involved back-up Browns quarterback Johnny Manziel, his girlfriend, Colleen Crowley, erratic high-speed driving, alcohol, domestic violence and multiple 911 calls by other drivers seemed to be overlooked by the Berea, Ohio, police officers, and the Heisman Trophy winner’s employer. The payback occurred Sunday. The Browns lost.
Witnesses stated that Manziel was “pushing Crowley’s face against the windshield” as he passed other cars on the right, using the emergency lane. Crowley had scratches. The smell of alcohol was detected by officers, but neither Crowley nor Manziel was administered a breathalyzer.
The responding officers allowed the combative couple to drive away without any charges filed. Really? And there is a claim that “no special treatment” due to Manziel’s celebrity status was granted? Let me stop laughing long enough at that ridiculous comment to finish writing this column.
Cleveland Browns head coach Mike Pettine was equally as nonchalant. The issue of domestic violence had haunted the team just a month earlier. Former offensive line coach Andy Moeller was charged before this season with assaulting a woman in his home. Moeller and the Browns “parted ways” before the Browns’ Sept. 27 opener.
Moeller was both a University of Michigan player and assistant coach. His father is Gary Moeller, the former Wolverines head coach (1990-94). After eight years on the University of Michigan coaching staff, he jumped to the NFL and the Baltimore Ravens, before joining the Browns. An alleged third DUI, while with Baltimore in four years, had Moeller serve two days of a 60-day jail sentence. Considering Moeller’s record, it is a surprise that the Browns hired him without the requirement of substance abuse treatment.
The “fraternity” of keeping an issue “private” has now haunted the Browns twice in less than a month. In actuality, there are two issues here: domestic violence and alcohol abuse, shared by Manziel and Moeller, and connected to one team, the Cleveland Browns.
Specific to Manziel’s recent incident, as a counselor I am unsure which entity should receive more scorn, the Berea Police Department or the Cleveland Browns. Both “fraternities” seem to have taken the “path of least resistance” and trivialized this incident. At the least, Berea officers should have separated the two arguing adults, given both sobriety tests, and issued Manziel a traffic citation for reckless driving and endangering others. Crowley could have been transported home by an officer versus being returned to Manziel’s “care” and potential reigniting of the argument that initiated the volatile behind-the-wheel situation.
Dashboard video from the responding police cruisers shows that Crowley is no angel, since she was verbally inappropriate to the officers. Why she was not arrested for her expletive tirade seems equally questionable.
Manziel spent five weeks earlier this year for in-patient treatment, reportedly for substance abuse. Any counselors who are continuing to see him post-discharge should be alarmed by the entire situation that unfolded Oct. 12. An essential step in maintaining sobriety or “staying clean” is to avoid situations where others “are using.” Obviously that was not the reality for Manziel and Crowley, who not only endangered themselves in the midst of traffic, but also risked the lives of other drivers.
Former Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Bill Cowher was one of the most outspoken critics of Manziel’s actions and the Cleveland Browns’ “inaction” last weekend. Cowher cited Manziel as “a distraction” to the team, especially after Manziel was given a second chance to enter treatment, and stated that the Browns should now dismiss him. This “armchair quarterback” agrees.
As a member of Delta Delta Delta sorority while attending The Ohio State University, I witnessed the beginning of the eventual downfall by former Buckeye quarterback Art Schlichter. A sorority sister was both his high school and college sweetheart. His off-the-field misdeeds were “kept private.” Anyone living in Ohio is painfully aware of how problematic that coping strategy became.
The ongoing issues that remained unaddressed during Schlichter’s tenure as the acclaimed Ohio State quarterback became an embarrassment to both Ohio State and the Baltimore Colts, during his troubled NFL career. Hopefully Manziel will not repeat this legacy.