bad sports, good sports

Bad sports, good sports: Networks change schedules for Johnny Manziel

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Unlike a friend of mine, I am not one of those people that has ten televisions and the ability to watch all of the NFL games at once. That’s not to say I don’t wish that I were, but it is not my reality. On Sundays, if the Eagles are not playing at 1:00, I look at FOX and CBS to see which games they are carrying and I pick one to check out. Most often, I end up watching FOX, as they are usually carrying NFC games, and I am partial to that conference. This past Sunday, I was totally confused when I put on FOX and saw a game between the Cleveland Browns and the Cincinnati Bengals, two AFC teams. I had never seen that before, so it made me curious. It turns out that the reason was a predictable one: Johnny Manziel.

The way the broadcast deals work, FOX carries all games between two NFC teams, as well as interleague games where the NFC team is the road team. I have never seen a game between two AFC teams on FOX. As it turns out, a deal was made last year that allowed the networks to cherry-pick a game from the other network’s schedule based on a variety of factors that are too tedious to detail here. The switch for the Browns-Bengals came happened even before it was announced that media darling Johnny Manziel, about whom none of the networks have yet found the limit at which they’ll stop talking, was going to have his first start of the season. However, the amount of the country that was going to see this game was fairly limited initially. Once Manziel was announced as the starter, plans were changed. Now, instead of watching the Green Bay Packers, who are having a great season, play the Buffalo Bills, I got to watch two AFC teams about whom I could not care less. The Bills upset the Packers in what appears to have been a great game. If only it had appeared on my television.

Look, Manziel is an outsized personality and he draws viewers and page views. I get that. I don’t like it, but I get it. Like Tim Tebow before him, he is a guy who gets a rise out of people. It often feels to me as if the public attention is caused by the media coverage as opposed to being the reason for it. Manziel has been all over ESPN since he first came on the scene at Texas A&M. He is a player who, as one-time Philadelphia Phillies pitcher Mitch Williams once put it (about himself), “plays like his hair is on fire.” That worked great in college, as he won the Heisman Trophy as a redshirt freshman, but it remains to be seen whether or not it is effective in the National Football League. I am of the firm belief that it will not be, and that he will wash out pretty quickly. He is too small, too undisciplined, and too much of a risk taker to be a successful pro quarterback. That, combined with his wild off-field behavior, will make him far more of a liability than an asset.

It is wildly unfair to make any kind of major judgment based on one game, but Manziel’s debut was not a good one. He played horribly, and his team was absolutely crushed by Cincinnati on Sunday. He wasn’t the only reason they lost, but he was certainly one of them. His career will not end due to this one game, of course, and I am sure he will back out there on Sunday. Cleveland spent a first-round pick on the guy, for some reason, so he will be given numerous chances to fail. Fail he will, and FOX, ESPN, and the other networks will be sure we see every last minute of it.

Bad sports, continued:

2) Boxer Floyd Mayweather was apparently a witness, via FaceTime, to a murder. Earl Hayes, a rapper and a friend of Mayweather’s, reportedly shot and killed his wife while on FaceTime with Mayweather last Monday in Los Angeles. Details are still emerging.

3) In a move that appeared to be out of the blue, Wisconsin head football coach Gary Andersen resigned and took the head coaching position at Oregon State on Wednesday. This was quite a shock to the players, coaches, and administration at Wisconsin. Andersen had been coaching there for just two seasons.

4) The NHL has been hit with an outbreak of mumps, a disease that has been quite uncommon since a vaccine was developed in the 1960s. A bunch of players, including Pittsburgh Penguins star Sidney Crosby, have gotten sick from it.

5) Jakell Mitchell, a freshman tight end on Auburn’s football team, was shot and killed on Sunday at an apartment complex near campus. It was the same complex where three other players were killed back in 2012.

6) Washington Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper did not show up at the team’s big fan festival on Saturday due to a grievance over his contract. That was likely not a great way to get the fans on his side.

7) It really does seem, sometimes, like the NFL officials would like the game to become two-hand-touch rather than tackle football. Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker Jason Worilds was flagged for roughing the passer for a sack on Matt Ryan of the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday. The hit could not have been more of a perfectly legal, textbook tackle. What a joke.

Good sports:

1) Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota won the Heisman Trophy on Saturday. He received the second highest percentage of possible voting points ever, behind only Troy Smith of Ohio State, who won the trophy back in 2006.

2) Oregon’s in-state rival, Oregon State, made a classy move on Sunday when it took out a full-page newspaper ad to congratulate Mariota on his win.

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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