Every once in a while, the NFL gets a player entering the draft who causes more discussion than is necessary. This year there’s no doubt that Johnny Manziel “aka Johnny Football” from Texas a&m is that man this year. First of all, having the name of the sport in your nickname is absurd in itself. It adds even more unwarranted pressure to an already full slate like the one Manziel is facing. But it’s pressure that “Mr Football” has put upon himself with a side of pressure that has been completely manufactured by the media. Johnny Manziel was a football star, playing for a school in the most football-heavy state in the country while playing in the most important conference in college football. Let’s add to the fact that he’s the first ever freshman to win the Heisman trophy, the most prestigious award a player can receive in NCAA football. Add all that up and mix it with a personality like the one Manziel carries around with himself. What did the rest of the sports world expect to happen? Just imagine if every mistake one made at 19 and 20 years old (on and off the field) was magnified and your entire persona was based on those two years. That’s what Johnny Manziel is looking at right now. Like most scrutinized athletes in the past, doubters are just waiting to pounce on Manziel’s next mistake and in contrast, “super fans” are waiting for moments of brilliance so that they can say to “I told you so!” to those same doubters. It’s the tug-of-war that we’ve seen for decades now.
Right now it’s the “super fans” who have the upper hand after Manziel had an impressive NFL pro day yesterday. His workout style was a bit unorthodox, running his drills with full pads and a helmet on, but still effective. That’s something most players don’t usually do but then again, when has Johnny Football followed in other player’s footsteps in those kinds of things. I know EPSN’s comment section isn’t the mecca of sports knowledge and analysis, but check out the flurry of comments at the bottom of this article yesterday. Nothing controversial was written in the article but the reading the comments, one would assume that the writer was either calling Manziel the biggest bust of all time or the greatest quarterback to ever walk the field. And because ESPN can’t avoid being themselves, they threw in two comments about Manziel on Twitter by LeBron James and Michael Vick, two of the most talked about athletes from the past decade or so. What’s my sports opinion on Johnny Football’s pro day? He was impressive in just about everything that he did. He had to be because he had a large crowd watching him, a crowd that included a former president (H.W. Bush) to go along with various officials and at least 30 team representatives. With all this pressure and attention on one player, the biggest question is, of course, will Johnny Manziel live up to the hype when it comes to the next level?
Ultimately it’s impossible to say. Remember how impressive Jamarcus Russell was in his pro day? Or how unimpressive Tom Brady was before the draft? I admit, those are two of the biggest extremes that we’ve seen in the history of the league but either one is quite possible for Manziel. The general consensus is that “Mr Football” isn’t the best quarterback in the draft (I like Bridgewater personally) but despite being either being the 3rd or 4th best QB, he could very well be taken with the 1st overall pick in the NFL draft next month. It’s silly for a team not to take Jadaveon Clowney first overall but imagine if it’s Manziel to the Texans, a local hero that can completely change the fortunes of a franchise. But then Manziel does nothing and he eventually turns into this generation’s Ryan Leaf. Now imagine if he drops (also very likely) in the draft board. People start doubting whether he’ll be taken and then ends up falling to a team like the Cardinals. Or even the Browns, who have had the absolute worst luck when it comes to QBs. Imagine him changing THAT team’s fortunes. It’s a lot of speculation that seems irrelevant to talk about at this point. Here’s one thing that I know: wherever Johnny Manziel goes and whatever he does, at the very least, he’s going to be entertaining and will continue to be must-watch TV for all sports fans. So let’s calm down with all the accusations and opinions on him. All you can ask at this point is for Manziel to put in the work and (appear) to stay focused in the months before the draft happens. And right now, that’s what he seems to be doing so. I’m rooting for you Johnny Football.View All Photos ›