bad sports, good sports

Bad sports, good sports: The Johnny Manziel Show…I mean…the NFL Draft

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This past weekend was the NFL Draft. Somehow, this has become a big-time television show with very large ratings, which is really amazing if you consider what they are actually broadcasting. Part of how the league and the network (ESPN) build interest in this event is by picking a guy and focusing on him to a truly bizarre extent in the weeks leading up to the draft, and then keeping a camera pointed at him almost exclusively until he is drafted. This year’s target was Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel.

Manziel does not need a lot of help, as far as bringing focus onto himself. The former Heisman Trophy winner is exactly the kind of flamboyant player that the media adores, as his antics and his style of play make him easy to discuss ad nauseum. He won the Heisman in his redshirt freshman year, leading the Aggies to an 11-2 record while becoming only the fifth player to ever throw for over 3000 yards and run for over 1000 yards in a season. Known as “Johnny Football,” he did everything in a big way, with his out-sized personality lighting up the fans and the message boards. He openly taunted the opposition and their fans, regularly making his famous gesture of pantomiming his hands being full of money. He did not win the big trophy this past season, but he was again a finalist.

Draft “experts” were all over the board with predicitons as to where Manziel would be drafted. Many of them had him going very early, as high as the top three picks overall, while some others questioned whether or not he would have any kind of pro career at all. I am not an expert, but I really can’t figure out the thinking of those who said he would go top-3. There is nothing about his game that I see translating to the NFL. He is small (just under six feet tall), and although he has a strong arm, his style of play was wildly scattered and all over the place in college. He very rarely played well from the pocket, and I see that as a prerequisite for an NFL quarterback. I was terrified that Chip Kelly, the coach of my Philadelphia Eagles, might be tempted to take him if he were still there when the draft reached the Eagles first pick at number 22. He was there, in fact, but the Eagles traded down six spots with the Cleveland Browns, who took Manziel in the spot the Eagles had just vacated. Whew.

The ESPN announcers certainly enjoyed the fact that they could spend so much time talking about their beloved “Johnny Football,” that’s for sure. As more and more picks went by, the shots of Manziel sitting and waiting to be selected became more and more constant. Some of the time, they were talking more about Manziel than they were about the player that had just been drafted. My Twitter feed, which has a lot of athletes on it, was non-stop Manziel. I really don’t think he was even close to being selected during those first three hours of the round one broadcast, as NFL general managers and coaches don’t much care who the media thinks should be picked, preferring to focus on who can actually help their teams win. Still, it gave them something to talk about to fill up all of that dead time and something to keep the viewers tuned in. There have been a bunch of these guys in the past, from Tim Tebow to Brady Quinn to Jimmy Clausen. The only guy I can think of who was in this position who actually became a successful player was Aaron Rodgers, who went 24th to the Green Bay Packers in 2005 after being discussed as the top overall pick.

I did not watch much of the draft after that first evening. We had a busy weekend and my wife, although she is a big football fan, is not a fan of things like the draft. The deeper they go into the rounds, the less they actually talk about the players being picked anyway. I can only listen to those guys kill time for so long before it becomes mind-numbing.

Bad sports, continued:

2) Marcell Dareus, a defensive lineman for the Buffalo Bills, is the latest NFLer to hit the arrest wire. He was stopped for speeding last Monday and it turned into an arrest on felony drug charges.

3) Three people, including two members of the University of Richmond women’s basketball team staff, were killed on Friday when a hot air balloon in which they were flying hit a powerline and exploded.

4) If Miami Dolphins center Mike Pouncey hadn’t already flown his idiot flag back when he wore a t-shirt supporting Aaron Hernandez last year, he sure did it this weekend during the NFL Draft. One of the central figures in the Jonathan Martin bullying/hazing scandal surrounding his team, Pouncey sent out a brilliant tweet after the Dolphins selected offensive lineman Ju’Wuan James in the first round on Thursday that read, “Great Pick! I can’t wait for our gifts he’s getting us lol.” He has since deactivated his Twitter account.

5) IndyCar was all set to run the first Grand Prix of Indianapolis on Saturday when things got very messy. The race was using a standing start and Sebastian Saavedra, who was on the pole, stalled when the signal was given to go. The people right behind him managed to dodge, but others did not, and a massive wreck occurred. The mayor of Indianapolis, who was waving the green flag, was actually hit by some of the debris.

6) A caddie on the European Tour collapsed and died during the Medeira Islands Open on Sunday. Ian MacGregor was 52.

7) Shawn Thornton, a forward for the Boston Bruins, was fined for spraying water on P.K. Subban of the Montreal Canadiens from the bench during a game on Saturday. What is he, five years old? The $2800 fine should have been more for such stupidity.

8) Phillip Nelson, a quarterback who transferred from Minnesota to Rutgers a few months back, was arrested on Sunday after allegedly assaulting a Minnesota State football player, Isaac Kolstad, who is now in critical condition.

9) Any duffer who has picked up a golf club and found the experience to be frustrating will enjoy this. Richard H. Lee had a bit of a miserable time on the 17th hole at TPC Sawgrass during The Players Championship on Sunday. Usually, difficulties at that famous hole involved golf balls falling in the water on their way to the island green. For Lee, however, the problems began once he was actually on the island, just off of the green in the fringe. Watch the video. That’s awesome.

Good sports:

1) Kyoto Sanga, a Japanese soccer team, came up with a pretty cool way to score on a free kick during a game last week. Check out the video.

2) Michael Sam, who made big news a few months ago when he came out publicly as gay after finishing up his college football career at the University of Missouri, was drafted in the seventh round by the St. Louis Rams on Saturday. There was a bunch of Twitter idiocy after the pick, of course, but I am going to set that aside and focus on the positive for once.

Bad sports, good sports appears early each week

Alan Spoll is a software quality assurance director from the suburbs of Philadelphia where he lives with his wonderful wife and children. He has spent his entire life as a passionate fan of the Eagles, Phillies, Sixers, Flyers, and Penn State. Recent Phillies success aside, you will understand his natural negativity. Follow me on Twitter - @DocAlan02
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One Response to “Bad sports, good sports: The Johnny Manziel Show…I mean…the NFL Draft”

  1. Alan

    3 and 6 in your bad sports remind me of how precious and fragile our lives are. It seems to heighten the effect when you see these tragedies happen in seemingly innocuous situations. I feel so sad for those people and I shudder to think what happened in that balloon before those people had to make the decision to bail out.

    That said, I have been offered, and emphatically refused, a few invitations to ride in a hot air balloon. No…thank…YOU!

    And to lighten the conversation, I had wished that Manziel was picked first so we could dispense with the “drama.” I am of two minds about his pro career – I would like to see him show some humility and character and then succeed. But if he continues to be conceited and taunting, I would love to see some 6’5″ 300 lb defensive end come around the corner and flatten him while he dances out of the pocket.

    These pros aren’t the same guys he dodged and weaved around in college. It should be interesting to see how he does and the man he chooses to become.

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