Is it possible Johnny Manziel could have avoided his life (and football) faux pas by simply studying the path of Tim Riggins on Friday Night Lights. The legendary #33 from Dillon, Texas, was played by one of the coolest cats in the entertainment industry: Taylor Kitsch. His portrayal of the “Texas forever” lifestyle is so spot on, you’d have thought the Johnny Manziel saga came first, and he based his work on the archetype. For Johnny, if he wants to get his life back on track, he need look no further than fives seasons of Friday Night Lights.
8. Nobody Loves You When You’re Down and Out
There’s a song–an old blues standard–it has been covered by everyone under the sun, and the hook states it perfectly: “Nobody loves you when you’re down and out.” Johnny Manziel has his true fans, and family, so there is some faction of humanity who still love the guy, but the people wearing the Browns jerseys, chanting his name…calling him Johnny Football…? They’ve moved on. There is no love left. Johnny could have seen from the life of Tim Riggins that once you topple from the top of the mountain, people don’t usher you back to the top. There may be a lot of people who believe in second chances, and truckloads of societal grace, but only the bottom feeders come around looking for an autograph when you’re living life like a fugitive. If Johnny isn’t careful, he’ll soon know how lonely it is behind bars.
7. Texas Forever
For some, the spotlight of fame is too intense, and outside of the safety zone, it’ll burn a fool like the sunshine in that one Danny Boyle movie…Sunshine. Johnny Manziel was a local God in state of Texas–a native son. People loved him, his ability to play football, as well as his antics on and off the field. To put it in Texas vernacular: “Hell, he done beat Alabama.” This was Johnny’s safety zone–his trapeze act that always had a net…and an audience willing to look at one of the other circus rings when Johnny was making mistakes. In the real world, where most everyone else lives, Johnny failed to function. It wasn’t an issue of “getting” money, because he had access to money. Perhaps it was an issue of idle hands. Like #33, it seems small town Texas is where Johnny is best suited.
6. Football is Fleeting
Another something Johnny Football could have learned from Tim Riggins: football is fleeting. If it’s something you do for fun or because you love it, it’s good to consider the timeline. Your days are literally numbered. You don’t get to play it forever. Tim abused his ability to play at a higher level, and now Johnny has done the same thing. Tim had the chance to play some college ball, and his lackadaisical, borderline alcoholic lifestyle put an end to that quickly. Johnny Manziel didn’t watch Friday Night Lights? He didn’t see that his life was becoming Riggins style legacy. He didn’t know what would happen if he continued to act like a colossal douche bag? At least Tim got his crap together to pursue one last run. He prioritized family and football, and played in one of the greatest games in pretend football history.
5. How to Treat a Lady
Tim Riggins was a proud man-slut, but he was never unkind to his ladies. Whether he was deeply involved with Tyra, Lyla, was messing around with his single-mom neighbor, aka Nikki from Swingers, or riding the teeter-totter with the young Becky, he was good to his ladies. He never beat on them, and he always played the role of protector. Even when Coach Eric Taylor thought Tim Riggins was trying to schloop his daughter, Tim was only trying to get her home safely because she was intoxicated. With all of his faults, Tim remained a caring lover. Johnny could have taken this example, and run with it. We know the former Browns QB is no saint. We know he likely had ladies everywhere, yet it was his steady Betty that he (allegedly) treated like a tough steak, and put a beating on her. If he did it, he deserves the clink.
4. How to Accept Responsibility
One major difference between these two Texas archetypes–other than one being fictional–Tim Riggins always accepted responsibility for his eff-ups. As a matter television historical fact, Tim Riggins often took the heat for other people when they were acting the fool. He was that much of a team player. Johnny Manziel? Denial. Denial. Denial. The dude doesn’t think he has a problem with substances. He doesn’t think he has a problem with relational violence. He doesn’t think he’ll have a problem finding a team who wants him on the football field. Wake up, Jonathan. Ryan Leaf is referring to your life as “looking in a mirror.” That’s a terrifying prospect. Who is going to touch that? And with a potential prison record? If Johnny had followed the example of Riggins early, he’d have owned up, and cleaned up.
3. It’s Easy to Become the Butt of Jokes
Johnny could have avoided so many pitfalls if he’d only rewatched Friday Night Lights. At this point, if it seems like this list is making light, it is not. This is pure frustration about a guy with other-worldly talent who threw it in the crapper. So, now Johnny is the butt of jokes. The frequent face and subject of memes. If he’d paid closer attention to the fictional life of Tim Riggins, he’d have noticed that it’s easy to become the butt of jokes among strangers, but even easier among friends and acquaintances. You become the guy they refer to for an easy punchline. This is not a good thing. There may be truth to “there’s no such thing as bad publicity,” but being looked at, and referred to as a fool, and because of your terrible life decisions is symptomatic of a serious problem.
2. The Evils of Drugs and Alcohol
Tim Riggins learned the hard way, and now Johnny Manziel is learning the hard way. It doesn’t matter who you are: when you genuinely start to believe that you can handle copious amounts of alcohol on a regular basis, it probably means you’re an alcoholic…or you’re of a heritage that takes pride in drinking other people under the table (we’re looking at you Ireland). In all seriousness, Johnny Manziel is in need of help. If he’d looked at the life of #33, and said to himself, “Man, this guy could have it all if he’d stop acting the fool…” then he might have developed some sense of foresight, and listened for that ticking clock that was his football career. Unfortunately, Johnny, like Tim, was puffed up by his peers, and he bought into his own invincibility. What a damn shame.
1. Prison Is Not Fun
Yeah. It has really come to this. Johnny Manziel was recently indicted on charges of assault, and it’s looking like he will stand some sort of trial, unless the charges are dropped for some odd reason. Johnny’s attorney has stated his client will plead not guilty when he stands before the judge, and that’ll mean it’s his word against the plaintiff’s. The plaintiff being an ex-girlfriend, who claimed that Johnny accosted her earlier this year, and was physically violent in the process. The general consensus: Johnny should avoid behaviors that could get him locked up; however, Johnny drinks too much. His recent NFL Draft Day tweets suggest he wishes he could do some things differently, but Johnny still doesn’t understand that he cannot live and die unto himself. Nobody wants their QB to be a party boy.