The Cleveland Browns are no strangers to NFL Draft busts, but they may be getting a little help from their in-state rivals in avoiding a quick flameout for their latest number one pick, quarterback Johnny Manziel. Akili Smith, the first pick of the Cincinnati Bengals in 1999, recently sat down for an interview with Paul Dehner, Jr., of Cincinnati.com this week, and the former franchise savior had some advice for Johnny Football: “You have to live the lifestyle.”
When it comes to the distractions that can derail an NFL career before it ever gets started, Smith offers:
"“Yeah, it’s written all over the wall with some of the things he’s doing in the offseason going to Vegas and all that stuff. He needs to put all that type of stuff to the side right now and focus on his career. That stuff is going to be there and if he doesn’t do that he is going to have a tough, tough time.”"
Sound wisdom from a man who crafted a 3-14 record in 17 games as a starter and was out of football after four years in the league. Even with the team’s recent successes, it’s not hard for Bengals fans to remember the stinging disappointment that those early 2000s clubs delivered. Wouldn’t it have been great if Akili could have imparted that same wisdom to his mirror and his teammates a decade ago?
Nevertheless, it’s good to see that Smith apparently has himself headed in a positive direction, even if none of that new positive energy ever benefits the Bengals. Wouldn’t it be ironic, though, if the one-time Cincinnati albatross somehow strikes a chord with Manziel and helps the latest college prodigy develop into a solid NFL quarterback?