Consider Johnny Manziel's timeline since Jerry Jones practically had to be gang-tackled to keep from drafting him in 2014:
• Late to a Cleveland training camp meeting.
• Misses a walk-through.
• Fails to prepare for his job.
• Promises to do better.
• Hears his bosses say they're "alarmed" by his behavior.
• Spends 10 weeks in rehab.
• Questioned by police after reports that he drove on the shoulder at high speeds and argued with his girlfriend, who tells witnesses he hit her.
• Promises not to do anything to further embarrass the organization after being named the starter.
• Parties again, then reportedly lies about it.
• Comes back this week and is asked, because he didn't exactly seem to agree with his benching, not to mention that the Browns' owner doesn't seem wild about him, either, wouldn't it be better to play for someone who has no problems with all of the above?
One guess as to whom the question referenced. Jerry and Johnny.
Unless Manziel wins at least two of the Browns' last four games against the 49ers, Seahawks, Chiefs and Steelers -- and if he manages that, they may erect a statue of him in Cleveland, where they've started 22 quarterbacks since 1999 -- he'll end up a Cowboy.
A prudent man would check out Manziel's professional track record and weep for joy that he didn't make the mistake the Browns did. He'd have seen the confirmation of what many suspected and thank heaven he drafted, say, one of the game's best guards, Zack Martin, instead.
But a prudent man probably wouldn't have bought the Cowboys in 1989, as Jerry rebuked Stephen when he talked him out of picking Manziel.
Whatever else you think of Jerry, he's a man of vision, and this is the one he can't get out of his head: Manziel running wild at Texas A&M, where he was, indeed, one of the most electrifying players ever to play college football. He made more out of nothing than all of your ex-wives put together.
Manziel didn't just win the Heisman, he was Johnny Football, made-to-order marketing phenomenon. It was the perfect match. Jerry isn't attracted to the ordinary. He didn't try buying the Lions. Had Jerry been around in the ninth century, the Mayans would still be a franchise.
And if he breaks a few eggs building his dynasty, what's the harm, right? At least that's how Jerry sees it. There are a couple of reasons he seems attracted to all the wrong players. For one thing, he's no angel himself. And as I once asked my lovely wife, why does everyone say you dated the wildest boys in high school? "Because they were the cutest," she said, without so much as a second thought.
Probably only a coincidence that she's from Arkansas, too.
Anyway, this is how the cycle works: Jerry brings in talented, if suspect, customers. We protest. He ignores us. And on and on and on.
From Charles Haley all the way through to Greg Hardy, the guys who came with extra baggage made up in talent what they sorely lacked in charisma.
But here's where Johnny Football would differ, and why Jerry can't stop talking about him: He's the prodigal son Jerry never had.
Never mind that he'd be an awful fit, purely from a football perspective. As I wrote when Johnny was coming out of college, he needed to go where a team tailored its offense to suit his talents. The NFL is not a particularly creative place. What works for one winning team, everyone copies. Even at that, just when it looked as if the league might accommodate quarterbacks who were a little outside the box, one by one each flopped.
The Cowboys, in particular, are as conventional as they come offensively.
They certainly won't operate one offense for Tony Romo and another for Manziel. Johnny will be forced to learn a timing-based offense that goes against his grain.
Even if you could ignore what's happened in Cleveland, which many of you are more than glad to do, there's no overlooking his performance on the field.
Without question, Johnny needs time and the Cowboys need a quarterback they can develop, but I have a hard time envisioning those prospects working in tandem.
Sports on 12/13/2015