Johnny Manziel's latest and most disturbing incident may leave NFL teams asking, 'Why bother?'

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Dan Wetzel
·Columnist
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The allegations were ugly and troubling. The decision by law enforcement in Texas not to pursue the case was firm yet confusing.

Did Johnny Manziel repeatedly hit his girlfriend last Friday night, drag her by the hair and hauntingly order her to "shut up or I'll kill us both"? In terms of the legal process we'll never know since Dallas police closed the case detailed in a report viewed by WFAA-TV.

Whatever remains of Manziel's football future probably hangs in the balance of what private investigators, including the NFL itself, can glean from potential evidence and witnesses that come from the police report  filed by Manziel's ex-girlfriend Colleen Crowley. The Cleveland Browns are expected to formally cut Manziel in March at the start of the league's business year, freeing him to sign anywhere that will take him.

The Browns are expected to release Johnny Manziel in March. (Getty Images)
The Browns are expected to release Johnny Manziel in March. (Getty Images)

If teams care enough to look, parts of Crowley's story make this more than just a she said, he said that often plagues these kinds of cases. That could be good or bad for Manziel. That means his prospects may all boil down to a parking valet at a Dallas hotel, surveillance video and a neighbor of Crowley's at her apartment complex.

Presumably Dallas police spoke to or viewed all those items before closing the case without charges. Its threshold, however, is different than any NFL team willing to take a flyer on Manziel.

Thursday brought a WFAA-TV report of a Fort Worth (Texas) police report detailing, courtesy of Crowley, a wild Friday night of fighting with her longtime boyfriend that didn't end until she said she threatened him with a kitchen knife. It included Crowley alleging Manziel appeared to be under the influence of drugs.

It began with Crowley and some friends reportedly meeting up with Manziel at his room at Hotel ZaZa, a boutique hotel in Uptown Dallas. The couple argued over another girl before Manziel forced Crowley downstairs and to the valet area, where she asked the valet to help her. "I was crying and begged the valet, 'Please don't let him take me. I'm scared for my life!' " according to the police report.

They did leave though and wound up parked outside a nearby bar. Crowley reportedly told police she got out of the car and tried to hide in some bushes but Manziel found her and pulled her back in the vehicle.

"He grabbed me by my hair and threw me back into the car and got back in himself," Crowley reportedly told police. "He hit me with his open hand on my left ear for jumping out of the car. I realized immediately that I could not hear out of that ear, and I still cannot today, two days later."

The two wound up on the interstate driving toward Crowley's apartment with Manziel telling her "I hate you!” and threatening to harm her, himself and both, according to the report. Later, in her apartment, they got into another heated dispute with Crowley saying she so feared for her life she brandished a knife to defend herself.

"I was in my kitchen, so out of fear for my life, I pulled a knife out of my knife block and advanced toward him," Crowley reportedly told police. "He ran out of the apartment." She went to a neighboring apartment to get help.

Manziel spoke to TMZ Sports and sounded like a guy who is just skipping along like nothing is wrong, that a snap of the fingers and the snap of the ball and it's all back to normal.

Manziel denied everything to TMZ Sports, saying "it didn't happen" and "I'm completely stable. I'm safe and secure."

Who is telling the truth?

Much of that hinges on the testimony from the hotel valet that night, and any subsequent security tape, if it exists. Did Crowley really beg for help and express fear for her life? Does the scene on tape play out as she described it?

(AP)
(AP)

There could be additional security footage from outside the bar that shows Crowley hiding in a bush. And finally there may be the neighbor who took a terrified, knife-wielding Crowley in, or perhaps witnessed something else. Then there are three of Crowley's friends or perhaps any electronic communication – much of which would require Crowley's cooperation.

A team interested in signing Manziel, or the NFL which may be cautious to let him play without knowing the full story itself, would most certainly need to conduct such an investigation. But is any of that effort worth it for a guy who while flashing moments of excitement has done nothing to suggest he is a potential franchise quarterback? This isn't Dallas taking Greg Hardy, one of the best defensive linemen in the league. This is a likely back-up quarterback, one prone to distraction no less.

The arc Manziel's behavior has been on is what made the police report sound at least plausible. This isn't the first run-in with law enforcement for Manziel and Crowley, not the first allegation of substance abuse, not the first details of wild nights that long ago went from colorful to pathetic, or at least should for any of the friends and family who claim to care about Manziel.

Even if this latest incident didn't happen, as Manziel contends, he's almost assuredly not "stable," "safe" or "secure." Manziel, in desperate need of calm in his life, continues to find himself in the middle of drama, whether it's pictures of him partying or despicable allegations showing up on police reports.

"I know I've been having fun," he told TMZ, "but I just need to get my body right. I'm 100 percent committed to playing football."

Manziel can only hope there is still an NFL team out there that sees enough in him that they are willing to spend time, money and resources to chase the witnesses and video footage, and sign a guy to a camp contract while covering their eyes and hoping next week doesn't bring another incident.