The Enigma of Johnny Manziel: Can College Antics Become Pro Success

Welcome new writer “Patches” to WTB? This is his first entry so let him know how you feel! I will get the authorship updated this week.

My name is Nickolas “Patches” Chance Jarosh. Pick a name, and you can call me that. I was born in Baytown, TX, just east of Houston. I’ve got family that lives in Tampa, North Carolina, Louisiana, California, and several other places. The Bucs have been a team I liked since 2002, when very early in my years of enjoying football I got to see the hay-day of our beloved Buccaneers. In 2011, I dove back into football and became a bigger fan than I’d ever been. Along with this, I once again came to the team I’d adored as a kid, my beloved Tampa Bay Bucs. I couldn’t have picked a much worse time to do this, but I love my Bucs, through the bad and the ugly. I like the good as well, which hopefully we will experience again this year! When people don’t understand my love for the Bucs, I pacify them with ‘I have family in Tampa.’ In reality, it’s pretty simple. This is my team and the #BucsNation are my people. Aside from that, I work as a police dispatcher in Southeast Texas. 

So much speculation surrounds who the Tampa Bay Buccaneers will take at the 7th pick of the 2014 NFL draft. Like every year, anything past the first round exists for the die-hards and the hardcore analysts. With the Lovie Era coming into full swing, all focus has narrowed to round one, specifically for the position of quarterback. 

There are no doubt other positions to address, but assuming that the chips fall in such a way that Lovie is feeling quarterback at number seven, the question stands of which one we’ll go for. There’s plenty of appeal to The Prototype Blake Bortles, a good UCF boy. There are also very few downsides to Teddy Bridgewater. They’re both very safe options who I see having solid NFL Careers. The third member of this year’s draft eligible ‘Big Three’ is easily the most polarizing.

Johnny Manziel, of Texas A&M, has been touted as Johnny Football by the press. His highlight real is both bewildering and extraordinary; half of his impressive moments look like something out of Looney Tunes. It looks like he’d never be able to pull any of that nonsense in the big leagues. It looks like he’s small and will get pulverized. Well, no one should be able to pull any of that nonsense off in college ball either. Yet, he continued to. Game after game, Manziel would slip out of sacks and create plays out of broken coverage time and time again. The undeniable passion he plays with earns him his nickname.

The press has also run him through the Sportcenter Effect. You know the Sportscenter Effect, right? It’s the same thing that’s been ailing LeBron James and the Miami Heat for what somehow feels like the last millennia. It’s the reason LeBron James, despite his remarkable talent, has rapidly become the most despised, disliked, and bashed player in the game of basketball.

The supposed ‘off the field issues’ that most media outlets tried to blow out of proportion during Johnny’s offseason were non-issues. He allegedly autographed memorabilia to make some extra cash. I welcome a logical explanation as to how that might impact his prospective NFL career. On top of that, a few party pictures and an angry twitter comment over a parking ticket became hard evidence proving that he wasn’t fit to be a quarterback.

With the NFL Draft only days away, it’s not difficult to find the public’s opinion on ol’ Johnny ‘Football.’ All you have to do is go to this little place called Twitter and say something about him. I promise you, the lovers, and especially the haters, will come out of the woodwork. I think the last time I mentioned him on Twitter as a possible draft choice for Tampa, I got hit with at least four tweets labeling him a douchebag. That might be an accurate statement, but it’s missing the point.

Does anyone honestly think every good football player is extremely selfless and humble? You don’t have to have the “All American Boy” at quarterback to win games. Russell Wilson is a great player, and I like him as a person more than perhaps any other player in the league. Unfortunately, charity and hospital visits don’t win games. If Wilson was not having the success he currently is experiencing, I have no doubt he’d be the same person when it comes to those selfless acts. He’d be well liked, but not so respected as an athlete.

Now, if we were trying to draft the friendliest team in the league, any supposed problem with Johnny Manziel mentioned so far would be just that… a problem. Fortunately, I’d like to believe that the Lovie Era will consist of crafting a team where the goal is to win. Lovie Smith said that a record of 11-5 was something to aim for, because he got fired with a record of 10-6. I don’t think I speak only for myself when I say that Bucs fans wouldn’t be opposed to 10-6. If all we needed for that were a nice, also tall, guy at quarterback, we never would’ve gotten Josh McCown.

Manziel, while far from a perfected talent, is amongst the most competitive players I’ve ever seen. Experience is the end all be all for draft evaluation as it is the only concrete thing you have to go on. Let’s jump back to bowl season and the 2013 Chick-Fil-A Bowl. On New Year’s Eve, the Texas A&M Aggies, led by Johnny Football himself, went up against the resident underdog in the Duke Blue Devils and surprisingly found themselves down 38-17 at halftime. Few Aggies, and I’d wager that even fewer Duke fans, expected the game to go the way it did. Taking the game into his own hands, Johnny Manziel kicked things into high gear and did what he’d been stuck doing all year long. He used a solid offensive line, a violent wideout named Mike Evans, and his cartoonish instincts to come all the way back and defeat Duke 52-48. The Aggie defense had lost that game time and time again, but Manziel refused to accept it. Showing what makes him the most exciting player in college football history, Manziel made throws he had no business making and dodged tackles he had no business dodging. He acted reckless. Why? Because he had no other options.

Had Manziel sat back and played his role, the Texas A&M record for 2013 would’ve been atrocious. Instead, he somehow made an 8-4 season out of a 2-10 defense. That’s the kind of competitiveness you can’t teach. Whoever pops into your mind as one of “the greatest,” no matter what the sport, I guaran-damn-tee you that athlete has the same competitive nature Johnny Manziel does. The kid just refuses to lose. In situations where he faced superior all-around teams and had no business leaving with a victory, he limped away with less than a touchdown margin of victory. The same sized margin that was the deciding factor in most of the Bucs losses last season.

This competitiveness comes with an elusiveness and improvisational ability like nothing that is logical. He’s also not very big. Then again, neither is fellow NFC South native Drew Brees. Reigning Super Bowl Champion Russell Wilson might have a comment or two about size as it pertains to a quarterback’s ability as well. So let’s take that insignificant blip of a fault and throw it away, because it means absolutely nothing. If height was that important, we wouldn’t need anybody other than Mike Glennon.

Johnny Manziel’s competitiveness also has been obvious by his constant desire to improve. With only two years of college experience under his belt, he’s still a work in progress. Do I think we could draft Manziel and waltz our way to the Super Bowl on highlights? No, but with a completely different player in Mike Glennon and a journeyman like Josh McCown to learn from, in two years we could have the most dangerous player in the league. Remember how fans felt when we got Darrelle Revis? Before the season started, at least. All the talk was about the fear of ‘Revis Island.’

A polished Johnny Manziel with a few years to mature and grow into his talent would instill the same fear. Defenses would either be scared of what Manziel would do to them, or treat it like the greatest challenge of the season to try and stop him. They’d fail, of course. Nick Saban, supreme ruler of all that is college football, oncec said, “You can’t stop him [Johnny Manziel], you can only try to contain him.”

As Bucs fans, I’m sure we’re all tired of bad press. I know plenty of people don’t personally like Manziel, and that’s understandable. You can’t deny the kid’s talent, though. Skip Bayless saying that anyone who passes on Johnny Manziel will regret it isn’t just hype and speculation. Johnny Football is a special, one-of-a-kind talent. I’m not saying that there isn’t another good player to take, or even that I wouldn’t grab someone like Sammy Watkins if we got the chance, but Johnny Manziel will be a long term asset to any team that takes him.

I’d just like that asset to sit in Tampa and give a team already touted for defense before a single game has been played an electrifying and potent offense to accompany it. And you can’t honestly tell me that Jeff Tedford isn’t at least a little intrigued by what he could do with a player like Johnny Manziel. With the seventh pick of the 2014 NFL Draft, because everyone else is too scared of him to take him before then, Tampa Bay selects Johnny Manziel, Quarterback, Texas A&M University.


"Here's to good memories, ounce by ounce." --Matt Westerman Currently hosting an Internet Radio/TV show called "What the Buc?" covering the Tampa Bay Buccaneers! We are having a blast and would love to get feedback from you folks on it.

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