Joe Namath can relate to Johnny Manziel.
Namath was never a stranger to the spotlight during a Hall of Fame career spent mostly with the New York Jets. Tales of the quarterback's nightlife were nearly as legendary as his play -- and his play was pretty damn good.
Manziel, like Namath, has a taste for the pleasures that come with being young, rich and wildly famous. Manziel's Vegas jaunt over Memorial Day weekend provided endless fodder during a slow time on the NFL calendar. A trip to Austin this past weekend brought more scrutiny.
During a Monday interview on "NFL Total Access," Namath defended the Cleveland Browns quarterback.
"What difference does it make, really?" Namath said when asked if Manziel's criticism has been warranted. "And it is an example of the different eras and time. I do know this about Johnny Manziel: I haven't seen anyone perform any better than Johnny the last two seasons on that football field.
"And I do know that we love entertainment. Football is a sport, but it is show biz. It is entertainment. And Johnny -- he's gotta live his life, man. ... . I've been to Vegas, you guys have probably been to Vegas. Give the man a little bit of room. But, in his position, he's not entitled to be a regular guy, 22 years old, 21 years old. Everything's blowing out of whack.
"I'd love him on my team, let me just say that."
Asked what advice he'd give Manziel, Namath offered that the quarterback should do his best to avoid JFF coverage altogether.
"Johnny, you know what you're doing, you know what your team is doing; trust in that," he said. "Other people have a tendency to paint us as individuals and the way they see us, or our team and teammates. I'd tell Johnny, just go ahead and live his life and make sure he does what's right with his team and society. He'll be cool."
Namath is uniquely qualified to offer perspective on Manziel's situation. He's also proof you can be an elite quarterback and have a good time while doing it. Namath has blazed a trail Manziel would do well to walk.