By Luke Winkie
December 18, 2014

After a rocky start against the Bengals, Johnny Manziel’s future looks more uncertain than ever. As of yet, he’s at no risk of getting cut, but the world expected a little more from the guy it nicknamed Johnny Football. What does Manziel's future hold? A spectacular career full of Lombardi trophies and rings? Or an Icarus-like fall from grace into the purgatory of reality television? Will Manziel ever live up to the hype? Or will he crash and burn?

The most disappointing result would be a Johnny Manziel that’s just okay. I pray we never live in a world where his career lines up with the Jeff Garcias and Vinny Testaverdes of the world - perennial stopgaps on teams void of replacement-level talent at the quarterback position. For one of the most polarizing figures in sports, there can be no middle ground. Johnny will be great, or he will be terrible. It’s the only way we can eat.

But what tastes better? The sorrow, or the pandemonium of Manzielmania? Let’s figure this out with bullet points:

Success - Old, creaky Manziel war stories would be brilliant

If Johnny Manziel does make it through the gauntlet and ascends to halftime show immortality, he might be the realest person on the circuit since Charles Barkley. We’ve already seen flashes of his wit; anyone who wins the Heisman and spends the summer cruising through UT frat parties in Jets Tebow jerseys obviously gets it. I can’t wait for the day Manziel shirks PR responsibility to start getting real with Matt Lauer about what it was truly like kicking it with Drake. That will only happen if he was successful enough to be jolly about the excess that didn’t end up breaking him.

Failure - It’s always fun to watch Goliath go down in flames

Jason Miller/Getty

It’s just a matter of human psychology, man. Watching Michael Vick rise from the ashes was great. Same with Paul Pierce and Yasiel Puig. But who wasn’t happy to see Ryan Leaf let his petulance get the best of him? I’m a Chargers fan, and I still feel the residual schadenfreude. Manziel and his oil-rich stock is the crème-de-la-crème of “cocky rich dude who can’t seem to identify and relinquish his character flaws.” Who doesn’t want to watch that get toppled?

Success - It’d be fun if the Browns were good!

Tom Szczerbowski/Getty

Sympathy for Cleveland has gotten more difficult after LeBron brought Kevin Love back with him to a sorry franchise that didn’t do anything to deserve them outside of homesickness and nostalgia, but still, it’d be kinda cool if the Browns were good. Cleveland is a blustery midwestern city; it deserves some sort of wiley all-timer bringing victories and leadership. I’d love to live in a world where someone goes in the hall of fame in a Browns jersey. That only seems fair.

But then again...

Failure - It’d be pretty funny if Teddy Bridgewater ends up being a hall-of-famer, and the Browns passed on him for Manziel

Joe Robbins/Getty

I’m sorry Cleveland, it just would be. And hey! It would help reinforce your personal brand!

Success - The Andrew Luck/Johnny Manziel rivalry could be marvelous

Jason Miller & Joe Robbins/Getty

I mean, can you think of two more diametrically opposed talents? You have Andrew Luck, in all his mumbly 150-IQ Stanford-educated greatness, and then you have Manziel, a short George Washington-looking dude who literally has “OVO” tattooed on his wrist. That would be incredible! It would be the Brady/Manning we all deserved!

Failure - There’d be so many amazing Johnny Manziel TV appearances

Man, if Manziel flamed out, I absolutely guarantee we’d see him pop up on Monday Night Raw. He’d probably take a UFC fight at some point, definitely appear on Celebrity Apprentice and/or Dancing with the Stars. Maybe he’d make a record with some low-card Young Money guy? Like, I’m pretty sure Johnny could talk Gucci Mane into making a record with him. It didn’t stop V-Nasty.

So what do you think? Right now I’m leaning towards Manziel’s devastating failure to be a more compelling storyline, but who knows? Maybe I’m just too protective of my heart to truly believe.

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