Despite the media circus around him, Johnny Manziel has the full support of his teammates and the Texas A&M fan base.
How can a player almost solely responsible for turning around the fortunes of an entire program be thought of as undraftable?
How could a player who was responsible for leading his team to 11 wins as a freshman and their highest final ranking since 1956 go undrafted?
Would an undraftable player accomplish everything Johnny Manziel did in 2012 while his previously stagnant program was in its first season of SEC football?
Could 32 NFL teams pass on the the kid who became the first freshman in history to win the Heisman Trophy?
The reasonable answer is that Manziel is far from being undraftable.
Before "Johnny Football" emerged on the scene, what was the last thing you remember about Texas A&M football? A wide receiver taking over at quarterback and becoming a top ten pick in the NFL draft? Ok, so that was a pretty unique story.
Aside from Ryan Tannehill, what is the first thing you think of when it comes to A&M football?
The Kansas State game 15 years ago? the Wrecking Crew" defense? The Aggies were a fairly uneventful bunch for the better part of two decades before Manziel arrived.
After winning the same number of conference titles since 1998 as you and I had, things weren't looking so great as the Aggies prepared for their first season of football in the SEC—especially with a group of unknowns at quarterback following Tannehill's departure to the NFL.
But once Manziel won the starting job prior to the 2012 season, Texas A&M football changed forever.
After being predicted to finish 10th in the nation's toughest conference, the Aggies shocked the world by finishing the 2012 season in historic fashion.
An 11-2 record. A blowout win in the Cotton Bowl over former Big 12 rival Oklahoma. Texas A&M football became relevant again and it all happened because of one man. A man that some say is undraftable.
I beg to differ and so should you.
The former is a far more accurate representation of his value than the latter.
If you were to list the players who have run afoul of the law in both college and NFL football since Manziel came onto the scene, it would be a lengthy endeavor. One name you wouldn't find on that list is Johnny Manziel.
It has been said numerous times that Manziel might be guilty of being an immature kid with a brash attitude and an arrogant persona. No one will really dispute that. The same can be said of any number of players in the NFL.
Being the most talked about person in sports after a historic freshman season isn't a problem many people have to deal with. Most kids don't know how to act at the age of 20 while living an average life in Any Town, USA.
Why should Manziel be any different?
The biggest difference between Manziel and the rest of us is that he's one of the most publicized and scrutinized athletes in American sports today. The things he does under the microscope are much easier to swallow than the things that many college kids do with no outside pressure or expectations.
He has a very polarizing personality, and people usually take a firm stance on either side when debating athletes like him. The thing is, there aren't too many athletes like Johnny Manziel.
Remind me again why you wouldn't draft the kid that matched or surpassed many of Cam Newton's numbers from his historic 2010 season?
The bottom line is he brings attention to the team, the program and the school. He brings in the revenue as well. If racking up wins while creating an economic boom for his university is a negative, then no NFL team should touch Johnny Manziel.
If you were to take away the overload of negative coverage from traditional media and social media outlets, everything about Manziel would be positive in the eyes of an NFL franchise.
With the quarterback usually acting as the leader of the team, it might be preferable to have a more low-key guy under center, but Jim McMahon, Cam Newton and others have fared just fine. In reality, there are a few teams in the NFL that could use a polarizing player like Manziel to inject some buzz and marketability into the franchise.
Is anyone in Jacksonville paying attention?
What his coaches, teammates and those closest to him will tell you is that he has been nothing short of a great teammate and the unquestioned leader of the Aggies team.
The bottom line is Johnny Manziel is a winner and no one will argue with that.
Except the critics.
Limiting the hand gestures and the trash talk would probably be a wise move, but, really, such actions are nothing out of the ordinary for a demonstrative college football player. He's an emotional kid who wears his heart on his sleeve and thrives off being a target. He is a target for opposing players because they want to dethrone the king.
Many have tried, few have succeeded.
His critics might not always agree, but Manziel keeps getting the job done. In this article from Kevin Sherrington pf The Dallas Morning News, it is clear that all his teammates care about is the end result.
Defensive back Tony Hurd Jr. laid it out best: “We got the W,” he said. “That’s what really matters in the end.”
|Statistics||Pass Yards||Pass TD||Rush Yards||Rush TD||Total Yards||Total TD||Team Record (Prior Year) Heisman Year|
His teammates want to win and they want to be recognized for their contributions to the success of the team. If they care about Manziel acting out on the field and taking the attention away from the rest of a team loaded with individual stars, you would never know it.
In the same article, Sherrington writes, "Asked if he thought Manziel’s personality on the field was an issue, Ben Malena said, 'He’s not quiet. He’s not shy. He’s gonna be aggressive, loud. That’s what makes him Johnny Football. We love it.'"
With the full support of his teammates and tunnel vision once he hits the field, Manziel has been masterful in some difficult situations during his short career.
Down 27-17 with seven minutes and change remaining, the Aggies were faced with a 3rd-and-19 from their own 3-yard line. While it wasn't his best throw, Manziel stayed calm despite feeling the rush in his own end zone. He threw it up where he knew the 6'5" Mike Evans could go get it.
Evans came down with the jump ball at the 35-yard line.
Two plays later Manziel finished it off with a 29-yard touchdown run. With the game on the line from the shadow of his own goal line in his first SEC road contest, Manziel helped the Aggies go 99 yards in three plays.
After a missed point after that would have cut the Rebels lead to three points, Manziel didn't panic. He knew they needed a touchdown, and he delivered after A&M got the ball back at the Ole Miss 39-yard line.
Manziel hit Evans for 12 yards before throwing a beautiful pass to Ryan Swope in the corner of the end zone with just over a minute to go. The poise shown by the freshman during his first ever SEC road game speaks volumes about where his head is at when the ball is live.
Maybe I'm wrong, but haven't the Jaguars needed to come from behind once or twice in recent years?
Forget Tim Tebow, Jacksonville fans should be begging for the franchise to draft Manziel. What do they have to lose? Manziel managed to take down Alabama on the road and win college football's most prestigious award en route to a season that will go down as one of the most impressive in the history of the sport.
He did it all with a style and substance that has captured the imagination of football fans everywhere. It doesn't always look the way it should, but when you are dealing with an elite athlete with that special "something," does anything matter aside from the end result?
Manziel would likely become an even bigger deal than Tebow was if he gets drafted. He would put people in the stands at home and on the road. He would bring the kind of media attention that a franchise like the Jaguars desperately needs.
The media and fans everywhere watched every move Tebow made for years. People wanted to know if Tebow could even make a mistake. People wanted to know if he was real.
If Tebow is real, Johnny Manziel is as authentic as they come.
He doesn't care what we think. He is what he is and refuses to apologize for it. The only thing that should really matter is what he does on the field. If he stays out of real trouble and continues to perform the way he has on the field, not drafting him is likely to come back and bite any NFL franchise that passes on him.
The differences between Tebow and Manziel are endless. For one, Manziel is a much more exciting player to watch. Tebow's manner was more robotic. Manziel is a Texas gunslinger who does things to keep you on the edge of your seat.
In this day and age, people are far too concerned with what a player is up to off the field. It causes some in the public eye to fall out of favor as they often turn that public projection into a reality. If Johnny Manziel hasn't let that happen yet, it seems unlikely that it would happen in the future.
If they need more evidence than the record-breaking numbers, the unwavering support of his teammates and the drastic improvement he has brought to the Aggies' program, then the Jacksonville Jaguars are mired in the NFL's basement for a reason.
Perhaps you remember this game against college football's premier program in 2012? It was on the road too.
After Manziel demonstrated what he is capable of in his first year as a starter in the SEC, the notion of him not being drafted is a ridiculous one. Despite the things he has done on the field, some still question his abilities. Despite the lack of actual trouble Manziel has been in off of it, some have made him out to be public enemy number one.
The amount of success he has enjoyed under the brightest lights at such a young age would cause many young athletes to go completely off course. Manziel has made us all stop and wonder what he was thinking on a couple of occasions, but he has also avoided the pitfalls that could have dragged him under.
The fact that he has not succumbed to the outside pressures or allowed the intense scrutiny to overwhelm him should be enough to convince some that he is worth a draft pick.
When he steps on the field and straps on the helmet, the rest of the world becomes an afterthought. No matter what gets thrown his way, he has stood up to every challenge.
After an offseason that was seemingly dedicated to following his every move and after all the anticipation leading up to the rematch against Alabama, is this how it would be expected to go?
Yes the Aggies lost the highly anticipated rematch against the two-time defending national champions at home, but Manziel was widely recognized for having an even better game than he did in 2012.
The evidence that feeds the doubters is proven wrong every time he steps on the field. He can make the throws. He can run around and away from defenses that are loaded with future NFL stars, and he has the respect of everyone that faces off against him on the field.
Teams get suckered into the hype surrounding a guy like Tebow and ignore the relevant things that should weigh heavily on whether to spend a valuable draft pick on the player in question.
With Manziel, they need to flip the script. Every NFL team should turn off talk radio, cancel their Internet service and turn the sound off when Texas A&M steps on the field.
All they need to do is watch. They say that numbers don't lie but neither do the eyes. Watch one game that Manziel is involved in and then tell us all what it is that makes one of the most exciting players in college football history so undraftable.