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Pluto: Rehab is good first step for Manziel, but there's a long road ahead
Treatment caps off a tumultuous rookie season for the quarterback, but Pluto says the Browns are likely to be patient.

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Amanda Rabinowitz
Johnny Manziel at 2014 Browns training camp. The rookie entered a treatment program last week.
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More than ever, the future is uncertain for two young Cleveland Browns players who were expected to be the faces of the franchise. Quarterback Johnny Manziel has entered a treatment facility after a disastrous rookie season filled with off-the-field distractions. Meanwhile, receiver Josh Gordon has been suspended for at least one year without pay for violating the league's substance-abuse program. Last week, Gordon said his failed test was for alcohol. WKSU commentator Terry Pluto talks about the long road ahead for Manziel.
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Browns quarterback Johnny Manziel entered treatment last Wednesday, reportedly for his dependence on alcohol. An adviser for Manziel, Brad Beckworth, says Manziel knows there are areas he needs to improve on to be a better family member, friend and teammate. 

Terry Pluto says it caps off a tumultuous year for the rookie. “The fact that Johnny Manziel had a drinking problem is not a surprise to anybody who’s paying just remote attention to him because things kept coming out. Manziel’s problems are documented, some by himself with selfie pictures at these bars. [Josh] Gordon keeps flunking drug tests, and he has a bunch of excuses.”

A superstar humbled
Manziel, selected by the Browns with the 22nd overall pick in the 2014 draft, completed 18 of 35 passes for 175 yards in seven quarters of NFL play before injuring his hamstring in Week 16.

“From a human perspective, you want them to get help,” Pluto says. “I can tell you this from somebody who’s dealt with a lot of jail ministry over the years -- The rehab situation is really your first step. You go in and you do 28 days or whatnot. Your challenge, is especially for an athlete when you get out is to say, 'OK, I’m going to do my after care. I’m going to go to my meetings, I’m going to go to my men’s group, whatever it is.' Because the problem is, ‘I have to humble myself.’ He says that’s difficult for a guy whose nickname is “Johnny Football.”

A good step
Still, Pluto says Manziel’s decision to go to rehab is a good first step. “Sometimes people say, ‘Well they’re doing this because they have to, or they’re feeling forced to.’ I don’t care why they’re doing it in the beginning, because maybe something will click with them. But, both of these guys, especially Manziel who’s just starting this, has to understand that this is just a long journey.”

Pluto says Manziel’s poor performance on the field was probably a reality check. “He was having trouble keeping track of the plays and everything else. So there was a lot of peer pressure on him. Whatever pain it took to get him to take these steps, it’s great.”

Manziel’s future with the Browns
“You try to help him as a person, but you’re running a business. You gotta get a quarterback. You hit the reset button and you go back to Brian Hoyer, who’s a free agent. You say, ‘Ok, Brian, we want you to come back. You’ve got a great chance here to be a starting quarterback.’ You shop around for someone else. To me, if you’re doing a depth chart, Manziel is third or fourth on the list written in pencil. That’s how the league is. It’s a cruel place.”

A long road
“He’s gonna have a lot to overcome. Basically, when he comes back, he’s going to be just like Brian Hoyer was a few years ago or any of these other guys who are undrafted or cut once or twice. Johnny got his bonus and the first year salary guaranteed. Frankly, if the Browns want to cut him, it wouldn’t cost them much of anything.”

But, Pluto thinks the Browns will be patient for a while. “I think they want to see how he does. Maybe I would have cut him at the end of the year. The fact that he’s done this and if he actually goes through the program, you could play do a wait-and-see game with him.

As for Gordon, “I’ve wanted to get rid of him for a while, and nothing’s really changed.”

Related WKSU Stories

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Off-field antics, quarterback drama shadow Browns improvements on the field
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Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Pluto: Like years past, Browns quarterback competition is chaos
Wednesday, August 20, 2014

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