No, you can’t judge Johnny Manziel for going to Las Vegas

Johnny Manziel is 21, rich and single. But even if he was none of those things, we’d have no right to criticize him for where he decides to vacation in his off time. He broke no laws on his Memorial Day weekend excursion to Las Vegas, and yet people are apparently distraught that he’d make such a trip.

“He did nothing illegal,” said Browns head coach Mike Pettine. “It’s the price tag for the reputation he has.”

Exactly. Just like Tony Romo in Cabo. Except this is the offseason. And what the nimrods ripping Manziel don’t realize is that he’s in the majority among professional athletes, most of whom make frequent trips to Sin City. It’s perfectly normal.

What isn’t normal is studying a playbook 23 hours a day, but you’d swear there are fans who believe that should be an athlete’s onus. Time away from any job is important, and those who don’t believe in that notion only when viewing the actions of players on their favorite teams are pathetic.

I’ve run into Rob Gronkowski in Las Vegas. We were at the same party two summers ago, alongside a slew of NFLers including Casey Matthews, whom I discussed the Eagles with. The entire Los Angeles Kings hockey team was there with the Stanley Cup. Were we all drinking? Yes. Were any of the players belligerent or out of control? Absolutely not. They usually aren’t. In fact, despite having more means and fewer responsibilities than everyone around them, pro athletes are usually the tamest dudes at parties. They can’t afford not to be, which is actually kind of sad.

But TMZ and pedestrian Twitter accounts have changed the way athletes party. Now, they have to temper their fun in order to adhere to what some basement-dwelling, mouth-breathing fans will inevitably turn into a controversy.

Those perpetuating this mess are the same people who criticize politicians for worrying about the small stuff when there are so many major issues to be addressed. We can multitask, we can do both.

We can work and have fun. In fact, we should.

As Jamie Dukes said in the clip linked above, quarterbacks are held to a higher standard. But Tom Brady has missed organized team activities for no good reason and was at the Kentucky Derby earlier this month. No criticism there. The reality is Manziel is being victimized by an unfair double standard that only exists because it’s 2014 and he’s Johnny Football.

Ken Stabler and Joe Namath were lucky.

“If I want to go out and have some fun,” said Manziel this week, “and it doesn’t hinder what my main goals in life are, then I really don’t care what anybody has to say.”


About Brad Gagnon

Brad Gagnon has been passionate about both sports and mass media since he was in diapers -- a passion that won't die until he's in them again. Based in Toronto, he's worked as a national NFL blog editor at (covering Super Bowls XLIV, XLV and XLVI), a producer and writer at theScore Television Network and a host, reporter and play-by-play voice at Rogers TV. His work has also appeared at Deadspin,, The Guardian, The Hockey News and elsewhere at Bloguin, but his day gig has him covering all things NFC East for Bleacher Report.