Johnny Golf

You are done with football, John. Trust me.

Jim Rome
June 30, 2020 - 11:30 am
Johnny Manziel

USA Today


The list of former professional athletes who call it a career and wind down in Scottsdale, Arizona for a second life of low-cost, high-quality, easy retirement living is endless. They just usually aren’t 27 years old when they do it.

Enter Johnny Manziel. AKA Johnny Football. AKA Johnny Car Insurance. AKA Johnny AARP.  A man now single-handedly responsible for bringing down the median age of the 4-8-0 area code.

The ballad of Johnny Manziel is nothing more than a lesson in gravity. What goes up, must come down. And Manziel has been on the back half of that equation for quite some time now. Heisman trophy winner to 1st round NFL draft pick, to cut by the Browns, to banned from the CFL, to embarrassed in the defunct AAF, to slinging discount car insurance, to shunned by the XFL, to divorced, to literally falling backwards off a cliff seven weeks ago on Instagram.

Throw in a bunch legal problems, a public Twitter fight with his dad, and an ill-fated midseason trip to Vegas as Billy Manziel—and you’ve pretty much got the entire Wikipedia page on the guy.

From the second the Browns called this dude’s name back in 2014—it’s been a freefall: you ever have the dream where you’re just falling….well, that’s Manziel’s real life.   And that freefall has landed Johnny AARP in Scottsdale, Arizona three years before his 30th birthday and about three decades before the usual former pro athlete character arc.

Yesterday, an interview with the Lubbock Journal got some nationwide run because John Manziel seemed to finally arrive at a conclusion the rest of us arrived at 5 years ago when he described his football career as, “in the past, probably.”

Well, he sure as hell got the first three words of that right. In the past is more accurate than any ball he ever threw post-Texas A&M. I don’t know how else you’d describe a career that lived on TMZ and nowhere else the last couple of years.

But I’m fascinated by his use of the word, probably. Either the definition of the word probably got changed without me knowing—or John Manziel doesn’t know what probably means. There’s nothing probable about his career being over. It’s definite. And it’s been that way for a while now. You don’t even need to make it official with a retirement. Although you kind of did when you moved to Scottsdale and told the Lubbock Journal that you’re playing golf six days a week.

Golf? Six days a week?!

There are three types of people who play golf six days a week; TOUR pros. Old dudes cashing a pension check who belong to a club two minutes from their house. And Michael Jordan. And that’s it.

Playing golf six days a week as a 27-year old without a TOUR card in Scottsdale, Arizona isn’t awesome. It’s an admission that literally nothing is happening in your life. And most people are looking for that special kind of nothing after they’ve done something. Bro—you’re not supposed to fast forward to being an old dude, desert rat, Golf Guy at the age of 27. You’re supposed to find a second career.

Johnny Golf also told the paper he didn’t put the time in to be a great football player and that he doesn’t know if his heart was in it.

Man, this guy is having all sorts of epiphanies out there under the sun. First he figures out his football career is probably over and now he's owning up to not putting the work in. Couple more rounds of golf and he might realize he shouldn’t have gone to Vegas before a Week 17 game under the alias, Billy.

Look, I hope Johnny Golf figures out a second act. I really do. I want everyone in this life to be happy and healthy. But semi-retiring in the retirement capital of the world to play golf six days a week at the age of 27 ain’t it. 

And telling a paper your football career is probably over while still selling Comeback Season shirts off your Instagram bio ain't it, either.