It’s no secret that Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones has been infatuated with former Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel since passing on him in the 2014 NFL Draft.
Jones has not been able to stop talking about Manziel, who was drafted by the Cleveland Browns after the Cowboys chose guard Zack Martin with the 16th overall pick. Jones was even admonished by the league for coming close to tampering.
Now that Manziel is a free agent — he was released March 11 after two disappointing and controversy-filled years in Cleveland — Jones is finally free to expound on the former Heisman Trophy winner.
But rather than admiration and rush to finally sign Manziel, Jones is filled with sympathy and disappointment over the quarterback’s inability to get his life in order. Jones can’t fathom the thought of Manziel joining the Cowboys or any team in the NFL until he addresses his off-the-field issues.
“The overwhelming response and the overwhelming mentality is for him to, if we’re involved in any way, to help and encourage him to get it together, to get his issue improved because those issues, in my mind, not talent, are why he is free today,” Jones said. “It’s those issues, and those issues are the overriding consideration here and how and what basis those can be dealt with and address.”
I don’t want … to do anything that doesn’t put emphasis on him getting straightened around.
Cowboys owner Jerry Jones on Johnny Manziel
Manziel was released by the Browns because of a pattern of irresponsibility and recklessness that has now escalated into a criminal investigation for domestic violence. A Dallas grand jury has yet to decide whether he will face charges for allegedly assaulting a former girlfriend.
Agent Erik Burkhardt dropped him as a client because of his lack of accountability.
His new agent, Drew Rosenhaus, is at the NFL owners meetings shopping Manziel to potential teams, and he said there is a market for him.
Jones says he has not talked to Rosenhaus about Manziel and doesn’t want to even talk about him potentially joining the Cowboys for fear of sending the wrong message to fans.
“I don’t want … to do anything that doesn’t put emphasis on him getting straightened around,” Jones said. “He’s had a disappointing life experience as it would pertain to his time in the NFL. I want to talk about any way we could help that.”
Helping Manziel, according to Jones, is finding a way to get him to focus on getting the human elements addressed, not trying to find a way to put him on the football team.
I don’t even dare, right now, go into picturing him in a training camp or an OTA or him in a ballgame. You don’t go there.
Jerry Jones on Johnny Manziel
As talented as Manziel is as a football player, Jones said he has not shown the discipline in life to maximize his talent.
Jones said the Cowboys would try to help Manziel any way they can within the rules of the NFL and, if potentially joining the Cowboys and/or returning to the league is a motivating factor, he’s all for that too.
But until Manziel turns his life around, Jones said he doesn’t dare picture him in a practice let alone a football game.
“I think where he is speaks for itself. That’s why I’m emphasizing that has to be addressed,” Jones said. “If it’s appropriate within the rules, or within the guidelines of the NFL, if we can be of help in the promise of being a part of the NFL through the Cowboys, I certainly look to that. But that has to be addressed ... I don’t even dare, right now, go into picturing him in a training camp or an OTA or him in a ballgame. You don’t go there.”