Joe Thomas Explains Why Johnny Manziel’s NFL Career Didn’t Pan Out

The Cleveland Browns have struggled to find a consistent starting quarterback for nearly two decades.

Since the city was given another NFL franchise in 1999, Cleveland has gone through 26 different signal-callers. The Browns have selected four quarterbacks in the first round of the NFL draft since 1999, including Tim Couch, Brady Quinn, Brandon Weeden and, most recently, Johnny Manziel.

Cleveland grabbed Manziel with the 22nd overall pick in the 2014 NFL Draft. The 2012 Heisman Trophy winner’s NFL career didn’t amount to much, though, as he appeared in just 15 games over the course of two seasons. After poor performances, coupled with a list of legal troubles, Manziel finally was released by the Browns in March 2016.

Manziel forever will be known for his off-the-field antics rather than his performance on the gridiron. The 24-year-old is a notorious party animal and seemed to prioritize having fun over putting in work. Manziel’s former teammate, Browns All-Pro left tackle Joe Thomas, believes Manziel’s friendliness and popularity ultimately were his downfall.

“I love Johnny, he’s a great person, he’s friendly, he’s a lot of fun,” Thomas told Graham Bensinger, via USA TODAY’s For The Win. “And I think that’s probably a big part of his struggles in the NFL is he has so many friends, he has so many people that want to be with him and want to hang out with him and that detracts from his focus on being a quarterback. And to be an NFL quarterback, you have to be so obsessed and committed to the game that you almost have no time in your life for a little bit of family, and the rest of it is being a quarterback. That’s a commitment that few people are willing to make. … If you can’t have that level of commitment, you can’t succeed in the NFL as a quarterback.”

As recently as March, reports surfaced that Manziel was attempting an NFL comeback, and he even met with New Orleans Saints coach Sean Payton to talk about possibly playing again. Still, it’s hard to imagine Manziel ever donning an NFL uniform again.

The Browns will continue to search for a quarterback, and they’re expected to address the issue in this year’s draft. The team reportedly was considering taking Mitchell Trubisky with the No. 1 overall pick, but new reports indicate Cleveland instead is opting for defensive end Myles Garrett.

Thumbnail photo via Kirby Lee/USA TODAY Sports Images

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