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The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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Farewell from the graduating Battalion staff of 2024
Farewell from the graduating Battalion staff of 2024
The BattalionMay 4, 2024

Opinion: With the No. 1 overall pick: Mr. Football

 
 

This is the second draft of my column about the NFL Draft, the Houston Texans and Johnny Manziel. I deleted the first one. It was finished – 800 words, a conclusion I liked, a few Cleveland Browns jabs. That column said things like, “It would be different if the Texans picked fourth,” and, “Any other year, without a guy like Jadeveon Clowney in the mix.”
This column is different, because after I wrote sentence after sentence about how my favorite team shouldn’t draft my favorite player, I changed my mind.
This isn’t another love letter to Johnny (okay, it might be), but the reality is the only quarterback I want in Houston is the Aggie who makes dumb plays look smart and smart defenses look dumb.
Bill O’Brien is the new Texans coach – Houston is the latest team to play the “maybe coaching with Bill Belichick makes you Bill Belichick” game. He and general manager Rick Smith are the assumed decision makers when it comes to Texans personnel. Maybe they should write one of these columns. Because here’s what I’ve learned: The more I actively attempt to discount, downplay or degrade Johnny Football, the harder it gets to do so.
After the Year of Darkness ended in December and the Texans “earned” the first overall pick in the NFL Draft (by virtue of winning two total games), we’ve had four months to pretend we know what it takes to be a good NFL player.
NFL fans in the offseason say things like “lateral quickness” and “footwork” and “arm mechanics.” I can pretend I know what those things mean because I’ve watched SportsCenter every day since I was 10 and Jon Gruden and Chris Berman have shaped my sports worldview.
But what do I really know?
I know Jadeveon Clowney is the kind of person you call a “freak” and no one questions the distinction because he’s six foot six and faster than most trucks (or something like that). I know he’s called the “Andrew Luck of defense,” referring to the notion that he’s a surefire pick, a no-brainer, the kind of player you lean on for a decade. He’s the guy whose jersey you buy because you know he’s not going anywhere for a while.
I know Johnny Manziel is smaller than Clowney (as is every human ever) and might actually be slower, if the 40-yard dash is the best assessment of speed. I know Blake Bortles is some sort of Jake Locker-Blaine Gabbert hybrid, which is apparently something NFL teams want. I know there’s a good chance Khalil Mack makes more Pro Bowls than Johnny. Same with Sammy Watkins, Greg Robinson, Jake Matthews – even Mike Evans.
It comes down to potential, but not the definition analysts often use when they talk about “ceiling.” Of course Manziel has on-the-field potential; the Kyle Field faithful know that more than anyone. I’m being selfish here. It would be great to watch Clowney and J.J. Watt fight over the heads of opposing quarterbacks. But if Manziel shapes into the Brett Favre-type he’s always been compared to, and Favre 2.0 takes his Aggie Ring, his Twitter account, his shifty feet and his No. 2 Texans jersey to the Super Bowl, I would lose my ever-loving mind. I would name my unborn sons and daughters and my past and present dogs after Johnathan Paul Manziel.
The only scenario that could be cooler would involve Acie Law IV hitting a knuckleball, step-back three-pointer to win game seven of the NBA Finals – in a Houston Rockets jersey.
The same isn’t true of Clowney.
And for me, as a shakily rational Texans fan and a maroon-blooded, wholly irrational Aggie, it’s as simple as that. I wrote this in College Station and that makes a difference. When I’m in Houston I can see clearer. I can pretend to think objectively and I can recognize the red flags that surround Manziel and his NFL potential. I can write almost-convincing columns that wish Johnny all the best in Cleveland.
But an unbiased sports fan is a boring sports fan, and where’s the fun in that?

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