Johnny Manziel, the American Arab of Lebanese and Italian heritage, was on a fast track to fame as quarterback for the Cleveland Browns professional football team. But Manziel couldn’t seem to get his personal life in order, and a series of controversies including physical altercationsreportedly pushed the team to drop him this year
By Ray Hanania
Fewer than two dozen American Arabs athletes have made it onto the roster as players for some of America’s toughest and best sports teams. But those few that have, like Patriot’s Quarterback Doug Flutie and Blackhawks left wing shooter Brandon Saad, have taken their talents all the way to the top.
Sadly, the latest American Arab to enter professional sports at the top positions, Quarterback Johnny Manziel, has pulled himself out of the lineup with a series of personal off-field incidents involving drinking and domestic violence.
The news media is reporting that Manziel, 23, once known as the fast rising “Johnny Football,” will be dropped by the Cleveland Browns sometime after Super Bowl 50, ending a brilliant but self-damaged career in professional sports. It’s one of the saddest stories to slam the American Arab community which has touted its professional success stories in medicine, sports and journalism as role models.
ESPN is reporting that the Cleveland Brown’s will drop Manziel probably on March 9. It is possible that Manziel could be traded with another team but observers say his off-field problems that overshadowed his performance during the past two years, will probably prevent that from happening.
Manziel’s grandfather is from Mount Lebanon. He was drafted in 2014 and although his college performance was considered phenomenal, his personal life seemed to overshadow his successes. Instead of being drafted in the first round, Manziel took a 22nd seat draft last week moving from Texas A&M to the Cleveland Browns.
Many sports commentators said that Manziel should have been picked sooner, but the problems that were swirling around the background just couldn’t stop from interfering in his career. Three times, Manziel was criticized for his off-field antics that included drinking, partying and even accusations of physical altercations.
Each time, the team tried to give Manziel, a Heisman Trophy winner, a new opportunity to renew his career and return to the top of his game. But each time, Manziel seemed to do himself in.
The most recent incident reportedly involves more partying and drinking and another allegation of physical altercation. This time, Manziel was suspected in an altercation with a woman identified as his ex-girlfriend and Fort Worth Police field a report on the incident.
Unnamed Cleveland Browns officials were quoted by various sportswriters as saying that they believed Manziel was undermining his teammates and the team’s reputation.
It’s a sad day for football and a sad day for Americans Arabs. Manziel had the talent to be a real football star. But he just couldn’t keep himself in line.
Ray Hanania is an award winning political and humor columnist who analyzes American and Middle East politics, and life in general. He is an author of several books.
Hanania covered Chicago Politics and Chicago City Hall from 1976 through 1992. He began writing in 1975 publishing The Middle Eastern Voice newspaper in Chicago (1975-1977). He later published “The National Arab American Times” newspaper (2004-2007).
Hanania writes weekly columns on Middle East and American Arab issues as Special US Correspondent for the Arab News ArabNews.com, at TheArabDailyNews.com, and at SuburbanChicagoland.com. He has published weekly columns in the Jerusalem Post newspaper, YNetNews.com, Newsday, the Orlando Sentinel, Houston Chronical, and Arlington Heights Daily Herald.
Hanania is the recipient of four (4) Chicago Headline Club “Peter Lisagor Awards” for Column writing. In November 2006, he was named “Best Ethnic American Columnist” by the New American Media. In 2009, Hanania received the prestigious Sigma Delta Chi Award for Writing from the Society of Professional Journalists. He is the recipient of the MT Mehdi Courage in Journalism Award. He was honored for his writing skills with two (2) Chicago Stick-o-Type awards from the Chicago Newspaper Guild. In 1990, Hanania was nominated by the Chicago Sun-Times editors for a Pulitzer Prize for his four-part series on the Palestinian Intifada.
His writings have also been honored by two national Awards from ADC for his writing, and from the National Arab American Journalists Association.
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