As It Turns Out, the NFL Wasn't That Into Johnny Manziel
In the most recent episode of Game of Thrones, as they make their way across the countryside as perpetual fugitives trying to keep their heads attached to their torsos, the Hound and Arya Stark lie down to sleep by a small campfire.
NFL wasn't as into Johnny Football as some folks.
As is her ritual each night before getting to rapid eye movement, Arya verbally lists every single person that she is going to eventually murder out of vengeance for wiping out the Stark family, a family who, if they were a college basketball team, would be down to like four scholarship players at this point.
It's what the great ones do, remember every person who wronged them and systematically ruin their lives when the opportunity arises.
Indeed, if there were salty party chips in the Seven Kingdoms, Arya would have had a Dorito on her shoulder for sure.
Somewhere last night (possibly
likely in between two strippers), Johnny Manziel laid his head down on a pillow and began saying the names...
Rick Smith.....Les Snead....David Caldwell....Jason Licht....
The Texans' passing on Manziel with the first pick of the NFL Draft was expected, disappointing but expected.
The Rams' passing on Manziel with the second pick wasn't even thought to be a talking point until a last-second "smokescreen" (which was openly reported as a smokescreen by the media, kind of defeating the purpose of smoke screening) this week.
The Jaguars' passing on Manziel with the third pick, as it turned out, was the tipping point. Not just their passing on Manziel, but their drafting Central Florida's Blake Bortles.
The rare NFL team that has an acute need to sell tickets (unless all those tarps covering the upper decks in the Jags' stadium are decorative), the Jaguars passed on a sure-fire box-office hit to draft a souped-up project at the same position as Manziel. This after reports from the draft on Thursday that Manziel-to-Jags rumors were "heating up."
Maybe then, we should have known. If a team with an acknowledged need at Manziel's position, and a need for star power, passes on Manziel, then...well, then YIKES!
At the time of that pick, it was still thought that Manziel wouldn't get past the Buccaneers at seven because...well, because the Bucs had indicated an interest and (other than Mike Mayock, and props to him), who had Johnny Manziel slipping out of the top seven?
Hell, the Bucs were even the one team who said they didn't care about Johnny's off-the-field, devil-may-care lifestyle, for God's sake! And that's in a city with maybe the greatest roster of strip clubs in the Western hemisphere!
But then Cleveland traded out of the fourth spot (to ninth), and the plummet was on. Johnny Football was Johnny Free Fall. A brief move by the Browns back into the eighth spot was a faint flicker for Camp Manziel, but when the Browns selected cornerback Justin Gilbert, the Manziel snowball began tumbling down the hill again.
One by one they went. Teams that were thought to have a need at quarterback or at least an interest in Manziel....Minnesota. Tennessee. St. Louis, again.
When Jerry Jones and the Cowboys (who we all thought would have thrown a welcome parade for the Manziel Circus and granted Manziel prima noctae with all of the Cowboys cheerleaders if he somehow dropped to the 16th pick) opted to go for offensive lineman Zack Martin (a lineman from Notre Dame, no less, as if people needed another reason to hate Notre Dame), then the message was clear....
The NFL just wasn't that into Johnny Manziel.
Whether it was because of his size, his reckless playing style, his perceived reckless lifestyle or just teams' needs at other positions, we will never know. Teams don't talk about the guys they didn't take. All we know is literally every team with a public opinion on Manziel and a need for him ended up being filled to the brim with bullshit throughout this entire process.
Which, if you follow the draft, shouldn't be a huge surprise. Shouldn't be. Still, it's jarring to see a player as productive and a personality as transcendent as Manziel sink like a stone.
Eventually, the Browns traded back up, from pick 26 to pick 22, and took Manziel. The only thing more odd than the fall of the former Heisman winner was a story that surfaced, courtesy of ESPN, about a homeless person who told Browns owner Jimmy Haslam to draft Manziel.
(SIDEBAR: I now can't wait to see the deleted scene from Draft Day where Sonny Weaver trips over a homeless guy who begs him to trade all of his top two picks for the next three years.)
And draft Manziel they did. They also drafted relevance, intrigue, fun and energy, all things that are acutely lacking in Houston as the Texans sit on the clock for pick number 33 and Derek Carr as the top quarterback on the board. As it turns out, not only was Johnny Manziel not at the top of the Texans board, he wasn't anywhere on the radar.
Of course, the Browns would still find a way to screw up something as great as getting Johnny Manziel with the 22nd pick....
The 22th pick. Indeed. Hopefully, for Manziel's sake, he doesn't get sucked into the vortex of suck that is the Browns quarterback position, lest we forget that most Browns fans go to bed at night muttering the same type of Arya Starkian death list of Browns quarterbacks from days gone by....
Tim Couch....Kelly Holcomb.....Ty Detmer....Brady Quinn....Brandon Weeden....
The star power and cachet of Johnny Manziel versus the factory of sadness that is the Browns, a true irresistible force meeting an immovable object.
As for Johnny Manziel himself, during the draft process, he famously said that if the Texans passed on him, they would regret it, that the chip on his shoulder would go from a "Frito to a Dorito."
So now I ask, how many bags of chips will he be carrying on his shoulder after 21 teams passed on him?