Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Johnny Football

I just can’t help myself when it comes to the mystique of Johnny Manziel. Maybe it is the nickname. Johnny Football. Few athletes get a nickname that involves the name of the sport (or very closely associated with it). The only two that come to mind are ‘Teddy Ballgame’, and ‘Donnie Baseball’. He is already in elite company. He has a charisma that seems matched by only the likes of James Dean. The girls love him. The guys (at least the ones that don’t hate him) love him. It seems that most of the experts in football think he will basically be a bust. Merrill Hoge called him a sixth round talent. Of course, he was not taken until the 22nd pick in the first round. Let’s compare (and contrast) him with some previous players. Two that come to mind are Ryan Leaf and Tim Tebow. Tebow was another Heisman Trophy winner who experts predicted would not become a good NFL quarterback. Well, barring a stunning comeback, it looks like they have been correct. Ryan Leaf ended up being a dud also. The comparison to Manziel is because of attitude. People did not believe that Leaf had the necessary work ethic to become a top notch (or even average) quarterback. But there are some differences. Whereas Tebow did not really play in a vertical passing offense at Florida, Manziel played in a spread offense. Whereas Tebow’s accuracy has always been a question mark, Manziel’s wasn’t. And although Manziel’s work ethic has been questioned, he seems liked by his players, whereas Leaf was not. Likeability will only get you so far, but I think Manziel has the intangibles to be a leader. I believe you need three main things to be a good (or great) quarterback in the NFL. You need to be a leader. You need to have an arm (Joe Montana is an exception), and you need a work ethic. Yes, Manziel is only 6 feet tall, but so is Drew Brees. I think Manziel is a leader. I think he does have an arm. I am not sure about the work ethic, but I believe that his teammates at A & M claim he did work hard. The work ethic is up to him. If he dedicates himself to be a top notch quarterback in the NFL, he can still be one.