Posted: 10:47 am Tuesday, August 19th, 2014

The fickle finger of Johnny Football: What it means 

By Mark Bradley

This sort of gesture is A-OK. (Evan Vucci/AP)

This gesture is A-OK. (Evan Vucci/AP)

In most cases, it would be wrong to make too much of a gesture made in the heat of competition. In the case of Johnny Manziel, the middle finger he flashed toward the Washington Redskins’ bench during Monday’s exhibition game — repeat, exhibition game — is too much in keeping with his persona to be dismissed as a one-off. This being Johnny Football, you half-expected as much.

Having seen Manziel in person as he directed the epic Texas A&M comeback against Duke in the Chick-fil-A Bowl, I consider myself a convert. Before the 2013 season, I wondered if the 2012 Heisman winner wasn’t just a Johnny One-Note. In the wee hours of Jan. 1, 2014, I could be heard to say, “This guy’s one of the most dynamic players I’ve ever seen.” And I meant it.

But being dynamic isn’t necessarily what an NFL franchise wants from its starting quarterback. It’s fine if he is, but it’s more important that he’s dependable — that he’ll show up on time (and Manziel has already arrived late to a preseason meeting) and do what he’s supposed to do and comport himself in a way that enhances the team around him.

I’m not sure Manziel is capable of attending to such details. Assuming he starts for Cleveland (and I can’t imagine he won’t), he’ll almost certainly offer double his share of Highlight Moments, much to the delight of ESPN, to whom he has become the New Tebow. But I’m not sure he’ll win. I’m not sure he’ll make the routine plays that an NFL quarterback must. I’m not sure his temperament will allow him to be just another quarterback, as opposed to being the famous Johnny Football.

And now you’re asking: But don’t you like his fire? His zest for the game? His will to win? I do. But everybody in the NFL wants to win, and everybody tries hard. In professional football, it’s the details that matter. It’s not enough to make the occasional big play — if it were, Tebow wouldn’t be a full-time employee of the SEC Network — at the expense of a half-dozen middle-size plays. I’m not sure Manziel understands that. I’m not sure he’ll ever understand it.

Because he was essentially able to call his own tune at A&M — remember that ridiculous suspension of a half against Rice? — he has never had to grasp that doing whatever he wants whenever he chooses can have consequences. He’s Johnny Football! ESPN loves his act! The Worldwide Leader can’t get enough of him!

Here’s the thing, though: What ESPN creates, it can also destroy. Teams eventually tire of seeing themselves depicted as the supporting cast for Tebow or T.O. or Ochocinco. (The exception is LeBron, who’s good enough to make any team delight in being his supporting cast.) It will take a while — the Browns won’t give up on Manziel just because he flipped off the Redskins — but eventually his NFL team will decide that Johnny Football is more trouble than he’s worth.

That’s provided he keeps trying to be Johnny Football and not simply Johnny Manziel. If he can control his excesses and play to his strengths, he can be a good NFL quarterback. If he can’t, he’ll soon be sitting next to Tebow — whose failing wasn’t excess but the lack of an NFL skill set — in a studio in Charlotte.

59 comments
Tide Braves Falcons fan
Tide Braves Falcons fan

It means he is spoiled rotten brat.

Has been since he burst onto the scene and still is.


AND will be as long as the media keeps sniffing his jock

WardinConyers
WardinConyers

I would replace him with 3rd stringer Connor Shaw from So. Carolina.  He knows the game, comes from a football family.  One day he will be a coach.  He finished his degree, and has class, something missing from Manziel for sure.  He is also a winner.

HonestInformed
HonestInformed

He is WAY too immature to be a sold NFL QB.


He is a punk and his act will get old with NFL players and coaches really soon.


Another wasted 1st round draft pick.


One MOORROOOOON on these blogs actually wanted the Falcons to draft this puke!

Flacons_go_2-14
Flacons_go_2-14

U all wait N see. Mansell will B a alstar and Superbowel winer while we sit here and sufer with a week armed Rayan who uses 2 much curse wrods!

BSNBC
BSNBC

His career will be like a fart in the wind!

Jazzpman
Jazzpman

Well the NFL has gotten so boring with all the stops in the game and the repeat commercials, I could care less.

By the way why not call for the benching of BJ Upton ?

ShovelPlease
ShovelPlease

Johnny F is the best thing to happen to football since Lance Rentzel married Joey Heatherton. 

Wilbo
Wilbo

I don't know how to guess the little dude will do long term in the NFL, but I do agree w Brat Lee that the bird was a very big mistake masquerading as an inconsequential gesture.

LostGoat
LostGoat

johnny f makes millions -- a $10,000 fine for the finger is chump change for this millionaire

JAS0N
JAS0N

"And now you’re asking: But don’t you like his fire? His zest for the game? His will to win?"


No, actually I wasn't asking those questions at all.  This quarterback was told by his promotional team to do something in a game to give the media an excuse to promote him.  Do you think we are stupid? 

dawg4u
dawg4u

Fran Tarkenton said that Manziel reminded him of himself as a football player. That is a fair statement and in a way I can see that. Tarkenton  was much more mature however and probably much smarter. Johnny Football may have more pure football talent as a qb but not by much. Manziel does have very good football instincts and is a great talent (just ask the Alabama Crimson Tide). The jury is still out on if he will be a good NFL qb but he is a very exciting player who I think can be good to great with a lot of work and focus on being A FRANCHISE QB.

HowlinDawg
HowlinDawg

I enjoyed Manziel's play in college, I do not like his antics. Those kids of things can create problems on and off the field, leading to disaster. Today's NFL isn't one for flashing QB performances, simply move the ball down the field, making pinpoint passes. 


Everything else is outside the box in regard to QB play.


Quite franklin, he's lucky he doesn't have to play for Lombardi, Shula, Walsh, Allen, Belichick or any other coach who demand excellence on and off of the field.


Sure, he'll sell ticket. But he'll get his clocked cleaned before he can flip another finger!

HighTechJacket99
HighTechJacket99

"Having seen Manziel in person as he directed the epic Texas A&M comeback against Duke in the Chick-fil-A Bowl, I consider myself a convert. "

Please repeat this a couple of times until it sinks in. Epic. Comeback. Against. Duke.

doggoneit
doggoneit

Mark Bradley: ...........NFL is show business!!!! Welcome him to the league. Let some linebackers personally welcome him to the league on the field of play. He'll learn. Dude enjoy the show instead of being my Mother.

Jimmyliscious
Jimmyliscious

Maybe he'll throw the bird in every game that he is getting spanked in. Then we can call him Johnny Fu@$ball.

ALB-Dawg
ALB-Dawg

I think it might be one of those situations when the big guy at the bar doesn't kill the pip squeak,smart alleck because it would just be to easy. Then again, look for Johnny football's career to end with a series of Johnny concussions.

Intruder
Intruder

A good gamble? Load up on tickets for when the Browns come to town. If Johnny is having a rookie of the year season, it will be standing room only.

KennethGrim
KennethGrim

He is dynamic and not at all dependable or able to control his emotions (see MV).  Another thing that is evident is that he has no idea how to call pro plays and adjustments in the huddle (they had to take time outs when he couldn't get the play off).  He had a much simpler job in college.  It is going to take him a couple of years to adjust to that, if he does.

MikeS777
MikeS777

I think Manziel will be fine.  The fact is the Cleveland O line was getting destroyed last night.  You need a guy like Manziel or Conner Shaw who can escape the pocket and make a play.  I thought Shaw did a little better overall, but Cleveland just doesn't have anything around these guys.  This is what happens too many times to young QBs.  They get stuck on teams that can't even block for them.  Luck "lucked" out by landing on an Colts team that had most of the pieces there.

I hope Cleveland sticks it out with these guys and allows them to grow and bring out the best in their God-given abilities.  We have seen it time and again when a college guy with serious athletic ability gets bottled in a NFL system.  You can't take a guy like Manziel or Tebow and shove them into a system that takes away their instincts and expect to see the same production.  Put them in a position to do what they do best

Tebow is a read-option guy.  Denver instituted that offense for him which is where his success has come from.  He's not going to run a west coast system or pro-style system or even a spread like in NE well at all.  It's not unlike Colin Kaepernick.  Yet Kaepernick is widely regarded as a success.  Why?  San Francisco runs a read-option offense.  Its right up his alley.  Even with the talent he has to throw to, Colin is only averaging 172 yards passing a game in two years starting.  Tebow averaged 123 per game his one starting year in Denver.  Not a lot of difference there, but Colin is in the right system.  Both were successful starting even as young QBs when put in the right system.

Vick is another example.  He was a highlight reel in Dan Reeves more traditional offense where he was expected just to make plays.  The worst thing to happen to him was to get married to the West Coast offense.  The big plays disappeared and were replaced by frustration.

taters
taters

He'll be another has been just like Tebow.  Great in college but unable to hang with the big boys, 

CaptJackSparrow1
CaptJackSparrow1

What that finger means is he got fined. And he is an idiot.

RangeRover
RangeRover

Mark,

Why the obsession of this puny punk?

What will the AJC--here in Atlanta, Georgia--report next, his urinal habits?

VanguardETFs
VanguardETFs

I used to hate Andre Agassi and Michael Irvin. In retrospect, they made their games more entertaining.  So good luck to Mr. Manziel.  Those boring, corporate NFL games will hopefully be more interesting.

OH-IO
OH-IO

Long live Johnny Football!

gtcaryd
gtcaryd

@WardinConyers I agree, he knows how to win. Learned that from ole Ball Coach. How is June and the Beaver?

Tide Braves Falcons fan
Tide Braves Falcons fan

@Flacons_go_2-14 Please define a few words for me:

alstar

Superbowel winer (?? sounds nasty)

sufer

wrods


First the guys last name is Manziel.

The only real QB you mentioned in your post - his name is Ryan (Matt Ryan)

He used a word once.


If you ever make it past puberty, you will too

HonestInformed
HonestInformed

@Flacons_go_2-14  Exactly Zero people one these blogs want to read your drivel.....please KNOW in your heart that this is absolute truth!

gtcaryd
gtcaryd

@Flacons_go_2-14 We just had to suffer through your post. How do you sleep standing up in those space ships?

JackPod
JackPod

@LostGoat  Daddy will probably pay the fine. Keep listening folks, more to follow.

Tide Braves Falcons fan
Tide Braves Falcons fan

@dawg4u I know you are jealous of Alabama but really?  Does being 1-1 against even the Mighty Crimson Tide mean he is a great QB?


No


DawgNole
DawgNole

@MikeS777

"Not a lot of difference" in 123 yds passing per game and 172 yds passing per game?! Say what?!

The latter is over 28 percent more yards PER GAME.

Spread over 16 games, that's a LOT of difference.

DawgNole
DawgNole

@Flacons_go_2-14

And you made a mistake by posting here again after promising you wouldn't if the Falcons didn't draft him. LIAR.

AnsweredTHIS
AnsweredTHIS

@Flacons_go_2-14


Idiot you continue to show us just how dumb you are! Geez.  Anybody else recall how a QB from Atlanta (#7, not calling any names) one finger saluted the fans at the end of the game and how that turned out for him?


What was his stats last night?

How well did he look running that offense?

How well has he played during the pre-season games?


Go away your village is calling! 

PaulinNH
PaulinNH

@DawgNole @MikeS777 

I just don't know how you can reason with the Tebow fans - great, great college QB but the NFL requires a different skill set.

DawgNole
DawgNole

@OH-IO @twelveofthirteen

There are no excuses for scheduling weaklings, or for retaining a lewd band director--until he was "exposed."

HonestInformed
HonestInformed

@Flacons_go_2-14:  You did make that promise....I read it personally (your promise gave me one more reason to look forward to draft day). 


You are proving you are not very bright AND that you are childish without the ability to live up to your promises.


Exactly Zero people one these blogs want to read your drivel.....please KNOW in your heart that this is absolute truth!