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Will Johnny Football Live Up to the Hype?

There’s been a lot of press over Johnny Manziel AKA “Johnny Football” and his arrival into the NFL. Looking at his college career it’s not hard to see why there’s been so much anticipation.

Some of his records include:

  • First freshman to win the Heisman Trophy
  • First freshman to win the Davey O’Brien National Quarterback Award
  • First freshman to win the Manning Award
  • Most gameswith 300 or more passing yards and 100+ rushing yards (4 total)
  • Only the fourth player to have 20 passing TDs and 20 rushing TDs in 1 season

coke Despite Manziel’s incredible college accolades, a majority of teams were hesitant to take a chance on him due to his off the field hijinks, which have continued to tarnish his many records. One of his early mishaps occurred while at Texas A&M in 2012 when Manziel was arrested and charged for disorderly conduct, failure to identify, and possession of a fictitious driver’s license. He would eventually plead guilty for failure to identify and be dismissed for the other charges. Then there was scandal of Manziel accepting payments for autographs. The NCAA ultimately would only suspend him for one half of his season opener against Rice University (hardly a punishment). Finally, Manziel was seen and photographed in Las Vegas rolling up money in what appeared to be an attempt to create a coke-snorting mechanism (for lack of better terms). However, once again Manziel would escape any form of punishment due to lack of proof.

nfl09_ph2Even Manziel’s parents publicly announced they were worried that their child was having a hard time adapting to the fame and stardom.  Therefore, when it came to draft day it was no surprise that many teams passed on the star college quarterback.  In fact, it became a comical scene in the Buffalo Wild Wings I was eating at while the draft was on, as many viewers let out loud sarcastic cheers every time a team picked someone other than Johnny Manziel. Ultimately, with their second first-round pick, the Cleveland Browns selected Johnny Football, and although he fell to the 22nd pick, Manziel was still the first QB selected in the draft.

With so much upside and potential, the question isn’t can he play, but rather – will he play?  The rookie sensation is already facing his first challenge amidst a quarterback controversy between himself and Brian Hoyer. In an attempt to settle the dispute over who will start, Browns’ Head Coach Mike Pettine stated before the preseason began that Hoyer was his guy. Perhaps Coach was simply being politically correct at the time because after further review there’ve been a number of signs pointing the other direction.

1st Sign – The Browns sold over 2,300 season tickets within the first 24 hours of drafting Manziel!
2nd Sign – Johnny Manziel has the bestselling jersey in the NFL!
3rd Sign – Last week alone, pairs of single-game tickets to the Browns home games sold out within 30 minutes!
4th Sign – The Cleveland Browns game vs. Detroit became the NFL Network’s most-watched preseason game in their 11 year history!
5th Sign – Manziel is outperforming Hoyer in their preseason games.

With stats like these before even taking a single snap in the league, it certainly appears that the fans are putting a huge amount of pressure on the organization to start Manziel. Luckily for the suits, Brian Hoyer isn’t helping his own cause. Then again neither is Manziel.  The rookie is already showing that he might not be mature enough to handle the stardom after flipping the bird toward Washington’s bench in only his second preseason game.  Apparently he lost his composure while trash-talking with Redskins players following a play which ended birdon the opposing team’s sideline.

Regardless of his shenanigans, it seems like Manziel will wind up getting the starting gig sooner than later.  However, that might not be the best thing that ever happened to him.  The imminent suspension of Browns’ superstar receiver Josh Gordon hangs in the balance, and with Gordon predicted to be out indefinitely for breaking the NFL’s drug policy for the second straight year, Cleveland’s receiving core will only be mediocre at best, making Manziel’s job much more difficult.  With any luck, the NFL might cut Gordon some slack, especially if the ratings are through the roof.  If not, Manziel could be facing a lot of scrutiny for his lack of production this year, even if it’s with a sub par supporting cast. Oh well, if worse comes to worst I suppose Johnny Football can try and become the next Johnny Baseball.  After all, he was also drafted by the San Diego Padres this year!

Will Manziel’s inability to handle the limelight prevent him from being a legit superstar in the NFL? Were Manziel’s parents’ concerns a premonition of what’s to come? Do you think Johnny Football will become another Heisman Trophy winning quarterback bust? Leave a comment and let us know how you feel! And don’t forget to check out an all new episode of my ChalkTalkNews podcast for more sports news and information!

Marco A. Rivera
Marco Rivera is a Chicago native with a B.S. in Marketing, a passion for writing, an affinity towards music, and a love of sports. Since moving to Los Angeles, he’s recorded over 100 songs and performed live at venues throughout Southern California, including the House of Blues. Marco also co-founded an events and promotion company to help brand aspiring artists. Besides posting blogs, he can be heard rambling about sports on his podcast, and seen interviewing up & coming artists on his webshow.

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