Hall of Fame running back Emmitt Smith believes Browns rookie quarterback Johnny Manziel won’t last long in the NFL if he continues to party on a regular basis.
The 21-year-old Manziel has partied the past five weekends. His off-field behavior in recent weeks – from riding an inflatable swan while drinking out of a big bottle of alcohol to dropping an F-bomb on video while pretending a stack of cash was a phone – has sparked a debate about whether he’s as committed to becoming an NFL quarterback as he should be.
Smith wasn’t shy about revealing which side of the argument he’s on regarding Manziel, the 22nd overall pick in this year’s draft who’ll compete with veteran Brian Hoyer this summer for the Browns’ starting quarterback job.
“That lifestyle is going to be a short lifestyle -- a short career lifestyle -- if [Manziel] continues that,” Smith said Tuesday during a radio interview with 105.3 FM in Dallas. “As we used to say, you can't keep burning the candle at both ends of the stick. The candle gets small fairly quick. So Johnny is going to have to figure it out.
“Hopefully he's not doing anything to hurt himself outside of drinking, which is going to harm his body and harm his performance anyway. But at the end of the day, he's going to have to learn to manage those things.”
The NFL’s all-time leading rusher, Smith knows a thing or two about the keys to longevity. He played 15 NFL seasons, 13 with the Dallas Cowboys and two with the Arizona Cardinals. Smith won three Super Bowls with the Cowboys, who had their fair share of partiers in the locker room when he was there during the 1990s.
“Johnny is young. I was young and dumb myself at one point in time,” Smith said. "But maturity itself, and maturing as a professional athlete, is something that is required of every pro football player.
“I think right now Johnny Manziel is going to get a glimpse of what negative press can do for you. A lot of people think negative press is good press -- or any press is good press. It's not.
“Johnny’s going to have to make a decision in terms of who he wants to be and how he wants to take this platform that he’s been blessed to have and maximize his true potential in every aspect of his life. That’s on the field. That’s off the football field, having the power to influence others at the same time in a positive direction. That takes time and it takes maturity.”
Manziel will hear messages similar to the one Smith delivered this week at the NFL Rookie Symposium in Aurora. The AFC rookies arrived at the orientation today and will partake through Saturday. They’ll attend seminars, participate in a youth football clinic Friday at the Browns’ headquarters in Berea and visit the Pro Football Hall of Fame Saturday in Canton.