Most of Johnny Manziel's off-field antics are pretty harmless. People still get riled up about them, but things like throwing out first pitches, golfing with the Jonas Brothers and sitting in good seats at NBA games are not that big of a deal.
But being sent home under odd circumstances from the camp of football's first quarterbacking family? Well, piled on top of everything else, it starts to look a little worse for him.
Not all players will drop in the draft for character concerns, and not all character concerns are equal. We don't know exactly what happened to get the Texas A&M quarterback sent home from the Manning Passing Academy camp this weekend. What is mostly agreed upon is he missed practice assignments as a camp coach and was asked to leave. There were reports he was partying and sent home by Archie Manning as a result, but those were denied. There was a report he was just dehydrated, but then an ESPN.com report said Manziel apologized to the coaches at Texas A&M for whatever reason he had for the camp fiasco.
We don't know all the details. But, it's a good bet the NFL is interested to hear them.
Manziel is not considered a good enough prospect to carry a lot of baggage with him into the NFL. Shutdown Corner's Doug Farrar broke the positives and negatives of his game down here, if you want to read it again. The debate about how he fits in the NFL is part of what makes him so interesting as a very high profile draft prospect. I like Manziel, I think he's supremely talented, his flaws are not uncommon for a college sophomore and his physical limitations won't be too much to overcome. But quarterbacks get dissected more than any other position. You can generally take a chance on a linebacker with character concerns like Alec Ogletree late in the first round. A quarterbacks' intangibles are much more scrutinized. You're drafting the face of the franchise, and you don't want to be constantly answering for any of his off-field foolishness.
Manziel has been in the spotlight constantly since winning the Heisman, perhaps to his own detriment. Really, if a NFL team thinks he's a elite prospect then it won't matter too much what happened at the Mannings' camp or anywhere else. But when the flaws start getting picked apart, it's just another thing NFL teams will consider. Is he a typical college student having harmless fun, and the criticism is being overblown? For one example in his defense, he did handle himself around the media at the Cotton Bowl like he was a seasoned veteran. But, will NFL teams worry there is something more going on?
At this point Manziel's off-field antics probably aren't a huge deal, but it's getting closer to being one. Whatever happened at the Mannings' camp, it's not a good look. If Manziel produces like he did as a freshman and does things like read defenses better and operate from the pocket more efficiently, some team will take a chance on him pretty early in the NFL draft (he can declare as early as after this season). But if NFL teams could go a few months hearing only about Manziel the quarterback and not about everything else that seems to surround Johnny Football, it might not be the worst thing for his future employment.