Jerry Made Right Call on Manziel
So word comes trickling down that Stephen Jones had to take the card with Johnny Manziel’s name on it out of his father’s hand on draft day. Considering they weren’t in the same room at the time, the story may not be literally accurate, but figuratively it could be. The rumor is that Jerry had Manziel’s name on the card for the Cowboys first round pick but Stephen talked him out of it, and the Cowboys moved down in the draft and selected Notre Dame offensive lineman Zack Martin. It certainly doesn’t seem like that much of a stretch, even if the story is a bit tainted. If you know anything about Jerry Jones you know that A) he’s a gambler and B) loves the flashy players. That was a perfect scenario for selecting Johnny Football. Manziel had, and still does, captivate the football world. Jerry knows that the combined union of the two nicknames – America’s Team and Johnny Football – would be marketing gold. To this day I’ll bet it irks Jones to see his highest pick in the 2014 draft getting lost among the 300-pounders on the O line. On any given play, Martin is just one behemoth banging into another behemoth. Unless you focus on him, he’d go unnoticed on virtually every play.
Manziel, on the other hand, sells jerseys and season tickets and parking passes and hot dogs and TV ratings. I put a reminder in my phone to watch the Monday Night pre-season game between the Browns and Redskins, a first for ANY pre-season game. I wanted to see Manziel. I’m sure millions of other fans did the same thing. Think what it will be like (if Manziel is the starter) for Browns regular season games, or, dare I say, playoff games. Jones knows what he passed up. Just like when he passed up Randy Moss in 1998 because he had a bad reputation, and the Cowboys were coming off the heels of the White House and Michael Irvin’s drug arrest. That move, although correct for many reasons, haunted Jones for years and probably still does to this day.
Taking Manziel would have been a mistake, but only because of what Jones did to himself. He boxed himself into a financial corner by giving Tony Romo one of the largest contracts in NFL history the year before. If Jerry put Manziel’s name on the draft card and was ready to hand it to the runner, he had to notice the handcuff on his wrist. If he takes Manziel he was assured of massive publicity from around the country, something Jerry covets almost as much as cash, but he’s committed to Romo for at least the next 4 or 5 years. If Johnny became the starter, Romo would be an $18 million dollar a year reserve. If Romo fulfilled Jerry’s dream, one of the most electrifying and magnetic players would be doing his impression of Babe Laufenberg until 2017 – not a wise situation.
I think Johnny will be a great professional, but a lot of that will depend on how good the Browns are as a team overall. We saw how average RG# was last year with a bad Redskins team, and how wonderful Russell Wilson was with a great Seattle sqaud. What ever the Browns do, I’ll be keeping an eye on them…and Manziel. As far as Jerry is concerned, after 18 frustrating seasons and three straight 8-8 records, maybe the old gambler is learning to let others take the chances and play the hand he has.