12:24pm: Mary Kay Cabot of the Cleveland Plain Dealer reports that, although it is unclear as to whether Manziel actually was in Las Vegas last night, the fact that he is in the concussion protocol means that he is not required to be at the team’s game this afternoon, nor is he prohibited from being in Las Vegas (all Twitter links). As Ulrich writes, Manziel is not, in fact, at the game.
11:15am: Johnny Manziel has sparked yet another media frenzy, as Scott Boeck of USA Today reports that the Browns quarterback was seen dining and gambling at the Las Vegas Planet Hollywood casino last night.
Ordinarily, this report would be newsworthy because a team probably frowns upon a player’s being several thousand miles away on a Saturday evening when said team is set to play its last game of the season the following Sunday afternoon. But because this is Manziel, and because everything he does could be the last thing he does as a member of the Browns, the report has predictably generated a great deal of discussion.
Of course, Manziel had already been ruled out of today’s game against the Steelers because of a concussion. Boeck writes that team vice president of communications Peter John Baptiste would not confirm whether Manziel was in Cleveland, or if club policy dictated that an inactive player’s attendance was required at Sunday’s game. As word of Manziel’s alleged appearance in Las Vegas spread, the quarterback himself posted a photo to his Instagram account showing him and his dog at his Avon, Ohio home. The post was accompanied with the hashtag #SaturdayNights.
Although Manziel has had flashes of good performance when he has seen the field, those performances have been far outweighed by his well-documented off-field struggles, leading prominent beat writers like Nate Ulrich of the Akron Beacon Journal to opine that the team should part ways with the enigmatic signal-caller after the season. Of course, given that the Browns are set to have a new GM and head coach within the next couple of weeks, Manziel’s future was up in the air even before the USA Today report.
As Tom Withers of the Associated Press writes, the Browns have declined to comment on the story at this time.