North American sports literature has its share of stories about failed football heroes.
Problem is, when failure happens live in real time, it isn’t particularly pretty.
Kind of like the old paintings vs photographs contrast.
It’s hard to hide the clutter in a photo.
Which brings us to a moon-faced, wise-acre sort of guy named Johnny Manziel.
Manziel is one of those little guys you tend to really root for in sports, a real hot shot.
Off the field, he was charming and funny.
Manziel had it all once.
America–a football-mad country–was his for the taking, especially after he became the first player in U.S. college history to win the Heisman Trophy as a freshman.
“Johnny Football,” he was dubbed.
But that freshman year at Texas A&M was as good as it ever got for Manziel.
His life gradually began to slide south: substance abuse, domestic violence charges, booze, maybe a bipolar disorder, a blown tire of a professional football career.
That’s why the trip to Canada from his native Texas last summer was so important.
Signing with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats was supposed to be the start of a comeback, a shot a redemption, a chance to show people what he REALLY could do.
Handed the Montreal Alouettes starting quarterback’s job after being traded by Hamilton, Manziel served up only mediocrity, while showing flashes–but only flashes–of what he REALLY could do.
Still, he showed enough to be asked back for the upcoming season.
All anyone will say is that he broke an agreement he’d signed allowing him to come north to play.
Where he goes from here is anyone’s guess.
Maybe he gets a shot there.
So far, Manziel’s managed to make a hash of his life.
Maybe next time, he gets it right.
It sure hasn’t been pretty.
Stu Cowan is a sports columnist for the Montreal Gazette.
This week he delivered his take on the matter.
He joined me by phone on Friday.Listen