Here’s (The Real) Johnny

In Indianapolis, Manziel told Peter King, “There’s a time and a place for everything. There’s a time to have fun, there’s a time to work.” (Todd Rosenberg/SI/The MMQB)

I met Manziel in the back of the restaurant at the Holiday Inn where the players are housed at the combine. He didn’t want to come to his agent’s place, the Omni, because he’d have been hounded by autograph seekers. It’s late at night, but he’s still on. As with what he says to the teams, he knows the words he says will be parsed and read by those who might pick him …  and he’ll be damned if he’s going to have a repeat of last week, when he told the Houston Chronicle that if the Texans passed on him with the No. 1 pick, “It would be the worst decision they’ve ever made.” (Even though—funny—it’s become part of Peyton Manning folklore that Manning did precisely the same thing with the Colts in 1998 when they were choosing between him and Ryan Leaf to be the top pick in the draft. Manning said to GM Bill Polian’s face, “If you pass on me, I will come back and kick your a– for years.” So let’s go easy with the idea of Manziel’s brashness ruining his chances in Houston.)

“I’m starved,” he says. He orders dinner, alternately drinks water and Gatorade, and sits upright, his back to all the curious eyes that he’s gotten used to.

Now, about the Manning Passing Academy incident last summer, when he was sent home for not showing up on time one morning …

“I got back from the function that we had the prior night, went to my room, and plugged my phone in to wake up at 8 o’clock the next day,” Manziel says. “When I woke up the next day I realized it was a little lighter outside than it had been the morning before. I shuffled around and looked for my phone in the bed and pressed the top button, pressed the home button. No juice. And I really woke up freaking out. I got to camp about 30 minutes late. I met with the head people, met with the counselors, and they asked me to go home. I poured my heart out to them and told them I was having a great time getting to know these kids, getting to know the people in my group. I didn’t want to go. I tried to talk to them to let them know the situation. For some reason, there was kind of a rift in communication with people saying I wasn’t in my room. And I absolutely was. I woke up in my bed in my dorm room like I had the two mornings previous.”

“And the rumors that you’d been in New Orleans that night?” I ask.

“I feel like with the media attention I had, the scrutiny, and everything that I went through last year,” Manziel says, “it directly prepares me for this.” 

“Absolutely not,” Manziel says. “We were in Thibodaux, [La.], whatever the name of the place was, until 12 or 1, got a shuttle back to the dorm, got to sleep and really just accidentally the phone died. And then I remember really being upset when my mom came and got me. And Peyton and Eli both gave me a call and said they wished things would’ve went differently, wished they had a chance to talk to me before things went the way they did. And what I wanted to let them know was I was extremely sorry. Those are guys that I’ve looked up to, guys that I want to be like one day.

“I told him if I come back next year, the first thing I’m going to set on my schedule is to come back to this camp and be the first one up every morning and really make up for what happened this year. And both him and Eli have all said they wish things had gone differently, and so do I. At the same time, I do realize I have the responsibility to be up, regardless of the situation but just really wish things would’ve gone differently.”

This is what Manziel was asked, to be sure, in his meetings here. Some of them, at least. And he was prepared to answer the questions about his partying. “I’ve tried to be completely honest with the teams,” he said. “I was in college. I did some college things with my friends. I had fun, and the thing that I told some team tonight is, my Mom always told me, ‘There’s a time and a place for everything.’ There were points throughout the last year maybe I was a little bit out of that saying. I did things too much and maybe overly aggressive. At the same time, things progressed fast for me. A lot of things were thrown on my plate and pushed into my life, and I really ran with those. To get back to that saying, there’s a time and a place for everything. There’s a time to have fun, there’s a time to work.

“As rapidly as everything came along, having to learn from my mistakes, through all the trials and errors, learning from that, and at the same time, I had different obligations than really most anybody has had. I am the only person I know of that had a schedule directly tied with our director of football operations to do whatever it was the school was asking of me. And really I’m incredibly loyal to Texas A&M. It was the school that gave me an opportunity when not a lot of other places did. But I feel like with the media attention I had, the scrutiny, and everything that I went through last year, it directly prepares me for this.”

He says he doesn’t feel he’s in direct competition with Blake Bortles or Teddy Bridgewater, though certainly he is. “I’m going to go be extremely honest with these teams, let them see a side of me that some people don’t get to see,” Manziel says. “Talk football, which is something we all love to do. And from there, it’s their decision. I’m going to put myself in the best situation possible, but at the end of the day, I can only control what I can control.”

Then he begins talking about Russell Wilson. Though they’re different as people, their size and competitiveness are very close. “Just watching him in the Super Bowl,” Manziel says “they really got their momentum with him, extending drives. That’s what you have to do. Convert on third down, and not turn the ball over. That’s something that Russell is incredibly good at. And he’s extremely accurate. Russell Wilson is a Super Bowl-winning quarterback. I’m not going to sit myself in this seat today and compare me to him. I have a lot to do to earn my stripes and earn my position in this league. I realize nothing is going to be handed to me. I have to go work for it. That’s good. That’s right. Some people said he couldn’t do a lot of things, but he found his way.

“That’s how I am. You can tell me ‘no’ all you want, but at the end of the day I’m going to win. I’m going to be successful.”

Manziel is not the warmest guy, nor the fuzziest. Nor, obviously, the tallest. But he is the guy Nick Saban cannot solve. Manziel’s numbers in two games against Alabama: 71 points, 717 passing yards, one gigantic upset. If there’s no incident under a rock that will doom Manziel, this is all going to come down to football, and playmaking, and determination. Manziel will take his chances against anyone in those categories.

* * *

Jim Harbaugh has taken the 49ers to the playoffs every season he's been the coach, but he's still working under the original contract he accepted when he left Stanford in 2011. (Tom Pennington/Getty Images)
Jim Harbaugh has taken the 49ers deep into the postseason in each of his three years as coach, but he’s still working under the original contract he accepted when he left Stanford in 2011. (Tom Pennington/Getty Images)

And now the rest of the NFL story this week.

I’m not convinced Cleveland got very far down the road. Did Jed York get an offer of a draft pick or picks from Cleveland for coach Jim Harbaugh, mull it over, talk to his inner circle and decide not to accept it? Did he ask Harbaugh if this was something he really wanted? Or did York simply decide, “We’re not trading our coach?” We might never know, though my guess is the only way York would have agreed to consider a deal is if Harbaugh told him flatly he wanted to take the Cleveland job. But what would trouble me about the story is how far down the road it got. Harbaugh clearly hasn’t gotten the money he thinks he deserves for leading the Niners to three straight playoff appearances, including a Super Bowl—for making the Niners a star franchise again. He’s entering year four of a five-year deal, which pays him $5 million a year. The Niners and Harbaugh have tried to do an extension but failed. And now you have to think his future beyond this year is murky at best. The Niners are unlikely to break the bank for a coach who hasn’t won a Super Bowl, and even if they win the Super Bowl next season and make Harbaugh an $8-million-a-year coach, is there any guarantee he’ll be happy with that contract for an extended period? The one thing the Pro Football Talk report leaves in its wake is the impression this story, and Harbaugh’s wanderlust, is not over.

The Ray Rice story will reverberate for a while. Ravens GM Ozzie Newsome said something telling about the alleged altercation between running back Ray Rice and his fiancée, Janay Palmer, at an Atlantic City casino last weekend. “Right now, I feel very good about his side of the story.” If so, then Rice must have given team officials a version that involves either self-defense or overt provocation by Palmer. Not that either one of those explanations would justify domestic abuse, if there was abuse. And regardless of the circumstances, if Rice did lay a hand on Palmer, he’ll be branded an abuser and likely face league or team discipline because of it. And rightfully so. What’s disappointing for the Ravens, and for Rice, is that he’d become to some the face of the franchise, a leading spokesman in the fight against bullying and an unselfish person in the community. Rice and Palmer were both charged with simple assault-domestic violence after the incident, and a court date has not been set. Rice already had one 2014 challenge on his hands—making sure his 660-yard season was a fluke. This problem will dwarf that one.

And the rest … The league’s Competition Committee meets in Florida beginning Friday, and one of the items on the agenda will be discussion on a rule to flag players for using the n-word on the field during games. I’m unequivocally in favor of it, and can see no reason why it wouldn’t be enacted … Lots of diverging views from coaches and GMs on whether the league should put in a behavior code to snuff out further Richie Incognito-type incidents. The prevailing question here: “How would it be enforced?” … Interesting to hear Mike Mayock lobby—correctly, by the way—for the Bengals to draft a quarterback in the later rounds to give Andy Dalton some competition. “If your quarterback can’t play at a certain level,” Mayock said on Sunday’s NFL Network telecast, “you can’t win a Super Bowl.” The Bengals need to run it more. That’ll help Dalton as much as a fourth-round passer … One of the coolest new additions to the media landscape: Pro Football Focus is doing team-by-team depth charts with color-coded rankings of players. Check out this Seattle one.  I’d disagree with the rating of only one player here—Kam Chancellor, who should be labeled a blue, or elite, starter after having one of the best postseasons a safety has had in years … Greg Schiano is here, meeting with some of his friends in the coaching business, trying to figure out his next move … New Atlanta assistant GM Scott Pioli will have a special concentration on dissecting the offensive and defensive linemen in the draft for Thomas Dimitroff … Three players I found universal love for at the combine: Clemson wideout Sammy Watkins, Auburn tackle Greg Robinson and Buffalo linebacker Khalil Mack. Watching Watkins run and catch, I’ll be surprised if he’s not a 1,000-yard player as a rookie, even if he goes to a team with an iffy quarterback situation. So fluid, so fast, so broad-shouldered.

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253 comments
Redfish
Redfish

At least the word Rape is not associated with any of his activities like another Heisman winner. Can't wait to see how that little character flaw will pop up when Winston goes in for his interviews when he goes pro.

Buck2185
Buck2185

Peter, you continue to show how little you actually know. Manziel will drink and carouse, gain 100 lbs, and change his name to Jamarcus. He will then take some Adderral, and shoot off his mouth, like a punk, in an interview with Erin Andrews.......

Rock305NY
Rock305NY

If you really want to clean things up, why stop at the N-word? How about f**k? mother**ker? A**hole? Sh*thead? etc. Plenty of people find these words offensive. How about banning the n-word plus the 7 words you can't say on TV? Then let's see the refs enforce it- while correctly identifying the offenders.  This sounds like an off the wall reaction to the Jonathan Martin situation. If such language it bothers the players so much, why aren't we seeing race-related brawls all the time? 

PaulPage
PaulPage

Under the 10 things, how are not #4 and #5 making diametrically opposed points?  Please don't tell me it's the difference between a first round and late round choice - that just doesn't apply.  The wording of his points is too similar.  Typical PK.

qwerty2002
qwerty2002

Not about the NFL, but I don't care. I thought so 20 years ago, and I was reminded Sunday Night -- Nancy Kerrigan was totally AWESOME! I cannot think of any other athlete who performed so incredibly well, and over two separate nights, and who was under such intense individual pressure. She was totally overwhelmed, and yet she skated her absolute best. And in ice skating, you are totally alone out on the ice, all attention the world over is focused on you, you get one and only one shot, and she knocked it out of the park. Came back two nights later and did it again. She deserved the gold, but she didn't get it, that's the way things go sometime. Really incredible.

salvaje50
salvaje50

Mike Brown is the cheapest SOB owner in the league.  Surprised he wasn't seen in Wal-mart buying bread, peanut butter and jelly that was on clearance. 

PaulCostello
PaulCostello

The first time a black player uses 'the n-word' and gets flagged on the field will be the last time the rule is enforced. What WHITE guy is using that language on the field, and NOT getting clobbered -- by the opposition OR his own teammates?? This is a solution in search of a problem. 

CoreyLivermore
CoreyLivermore

"The league’s Competition Committee meets in Florida beginning Friday, and one of the items on the agenda will be discussion on a rule to flag players for using the n-word on the field during games. I’m unequivocally in favor of it, and can see no reason why it wouldn’t be enacted …"

I wonder if the Competition Committee would be committed to penalizing black players for the use of cracker, honky, white bread, or any other racial slur they throw around at white players on the field, or if they will, like the rest of the politically correct moronic under-educated majority in this country, continue to allow the racist double-standard to continue.  I, a middle-aged middle-income white male can't say the N-word in the privacy of my own home, but black people are allowed to say whatever they want in public.

And they said Paula Dean was racist for admitting to using the N-word (and yes, it bothers me that I can't say it in the context of expressing the word she used and not the meaning behind it) 30 years ago.

Hussman
Hussman

Reading this description re: Harbaugh and the Browns, are you signaling the following pure speculation about the possible chain of events?


-Browns start losing streak, Lombardi/Banner start to lose confidence in Chud.  They have kept in touch with Harbaugh as friendly colleagues, and hear he is unhappy.

-Lombardi/Banner talk with Harbaugh and get some kind of feeling he would be receptive to Browns job.

-Lombardi/Banner tell Haslam they could get Harbaugh and request permission to boot Chud.

-Chud gets dumped, but the 49ers go far into playoffs and Harbaugh starts to think he can get the money he wants from York on a renegotiation.  He tells Lombardi/Banner that he has lost interest.

-Lombardi/Banner are now in trouble, they lost the coach that could have done more given more time, and they also lost their potential franchise changer.  They also lost every good candidate because they seem flighty and they took too long to make offers, and get Pettine (who may be good, who knows?)

-Haslam, frustrated at the events, talks with Farmer and sees he's the real deal, and tells Lombardi/Banner their services are no longer needed.


Possible or pure speculation?


DEJ1948
DEJ1948

Manziel should be black and blue from NFL teams touching him with ten-foot poles.  When multiple millions of dollars are in play, what sort of pre-draft behavior would you expect?  Anyone who's getting sucked in by the new personna Manziel and his handlers are hocking to the media and to anyone else who will listen would be well advised to proceed with extreme caution.   

ianlinross
ianlinross

"Costas said: “This is still a government which imprisons dissidents, is hostile to gay rights, sponsors and supports a vicious regime in Syria—and that’s just a partial list.”

I'm sure I can dig into some recent US history and current affairs and come with the same comment.

KristinDiggins
KristinDiggins

Kudos to Peter King for reporting on Sam's weak showing in the bench press.  I assumed he would ignore Mr. Sam's actual performance unless it was better than expected.

rckymtn4
rckymtn4

I really like the Russian coach's response to the writer. Not sure if he picked up on the double entendre, but really good.

number1mavsfan
number1mavsfan

If they're really going to police the 'n' word, can they at least penalize the idiots that dance around looking like a total idiot when they make a play? Last time I checked, it's their JOB! I understand 'emotions', but come on, most of us (too bad it's not all) could really care less how you DANCE, or make some stupid looking gesture, when all you did is make a play...

DamionMosher
DamionMosher

This is my problem with any gay intolerance, talk about gay players, or "benchmarks" for openly gay players: why the bleep does it matter? Will the play less hard, work less hard or be lesser players because they are gay? No! Is there some sort of connection to what happens in someone's bedroom and what happens on th field? Nope! Does having a gay player on your team make you feel uncomfortable? Who cares, how is it any different then having a guy with one blue eye and one green? How is it different from having a guy with really dark skin or one with pale white. None of these things have any baring on how the game is played, so get over it. What happens in any persons bedroom is between the and the other consenting adult in the room. As long as the other person isn't underage or somehow impaired, no one in John Q Public should give a fly Bleep, and if you do, you should take a long hard look at yourself and ask why!!!

apgoad21
apgoad21

Hey, where is the psychsports guy?


MarkPasquinelli
MarkPasquinelli

I remember a time long long ago when football talk was actually about football.  I'm fed up with liberal journalists hammering their social agenda down my throat (or else I'm a knuckle dragging, Neanderthal, hate mongering, bigot); the political correctness of the Redskins name; games in Europe  deny the true fans their rightful game; over-officiated games with no consistency of rules; the thug culture (it's not that hard to stay out of jail...really), and now legislating language.  I'm not leaving the NFL.  It's left me.

CobyPreimesberger
CobyPreimesberger

again i'm getting sick and tired of the collins stuff last year 1.1 ppg 1.6 rpg, career 4.4 ppg, 4.6 rpg and his first stat line 11 minutes 0 points 1 rebound 5 fouls.


as for this n-word stuff it's bad enough the game is overofficated enough, now were trying to legislate language on the field.  i mean it's bad enough that you can't touch the qb's much anymore and we have seen qb's flop to get a penalty see andrew luck, see tom brady

PaulPage
PaulPage

And then to follow up with #6 - "Not sure how you can be one with the other."

UlisseP
UlisseP

@CoreyLivermore Yeah, poor you. White and male in America: the horror that your demographics has had to endure through the centuries. Every time someone calls you a "cracker", you must really feel the pressure of decades upon decades of oppression and derision.

Gfunk
Gfunk

You are beyond pathetic.

MartyJenkins
MartyJenkins

@ianlinross having people hostile to it vs a government that is against it are two different things

KristinDiggins
KristinDiggins

@ianlinross  I am just happy he mentioned abuses other than the gay-rights issue, especially Putin's continued support of Syria (a regime that killed hundreds of children via chemical weapons).  

Mike26
Mike26

@DamionMosher  No kidding Damion!  Now if the media folks would trying to tell us otherwise, we could just get back to talking about how many plays Clowney took off last year while on the field....

UlisseP
UlisseP

@MarkPasquinelliHow exactly are "games in Europe" and "over-officiated games" journalism's fault? Are you just randomly angry and have decided that blaming the media is the quickest way to vent your frustration?

scarbarough
scarbarough

@MarkPasquinelli  Right, because for some reason it's critical to your enjoyment of football that players be able to use the N word...and are you saying that players going to jail is a new thing? That's always happened, to a small number of players each year.

BARRYWINDHAM
BARRYWINDHAM

@MarkPasquinelli You don't want language by players regulated because that's too liberal but yet you think the NFL has a thug culure that I assume you think should be regulated or some how controlled?! Strange! You want a "Man's man league" where guys can say anything and a name like the Reskins is not questioned but if a player get's arested now you turn into the moral police and think the league is recruiting the wrong players?! Again, strange.

drudown
drudown

@MarkPasquinelli  


"I'm not leaving the NFL. It's left me."


As the teacher in 'A Christmas Story' once said: "poetry, sheer poetry." Wait. That too, a dream.


Since you seem inclined to mix politics and sports, why don't you cite a SINGLE GOP policy that has BENEFITED the People since 2000? I'm serious. 


“Truth fears no trial.” - Thomas Fuller, M.D.



Contrary to GOP promises, the alleged economic upside of the Bush Tax Cuts proved to be false and did not lead to a stronger Economy.


Contrary to GOP promises, the Patriot Act was not used for apprehending terrorists at all, but engaging in the largest, warrantless "dragnet" against LAW ABIDING, innocent US citizens with no connection to terrorism whatsoever. 

Contrary to GOP promises, there was no strategic benefit to the US in invading Iraq and Wolfowitz LIED when he said the "oil revenues alone will pay for the Iraq war."


So please. How does "the conservative wing" have any more credibility than "the liberal wing" when NONE of the GOP has any semblance of credibility- not just on the Economy (e.g., if the GOP economic model "works", the US would've been "stronger" after the W era…not so)- but just in terms of this FABRICATED, wholly disingenuous GOP "guiding precept" that the People "don't really want" the State to AFFIRMATIVELY take measures to IMPROVE our lives, Military, Diplomacy and JOB PROSPECTS…but that the ACA does anything OTHER than what the EVIDENCE shows:  a SLOWER rise in Health Care costs in 40 years. Notably, for all your GOP "paid for" Media blustering, the GOP cannot cite a SINGLE, reputable source to support such claims the ACA has increased Health Care costs. 



Res ipsa loquitur.

joeg
joeg

@MarkPasquinelli I know how you feel. The republican party left me, Ronald Reagan, Bush Sr, and lots of others.

MoeLarryJesus
MoeLarryJesus

@MarkPasquinelli Poor widdle Marky's upset because Angry Old White Racists like him don't control the culture any more.

Go sit in the corner and cry while you drool, you pathetic old dinosaur.

Wombat
Wombat

@MarkPasquinelli  While I don't agree with all you said your last statement rings true for me as well... "I'm not leaving the NFL... it's left me", well said.

coolperspective
coolperspective

@CobyPreimesberger The field is the workplace for these (supposed) professionals.  Do you advocate for different rules to govern their workplaces than are applicable to your own?  Go to work tomorrow and call the first person you see a "nigger".  See how that goes over.  Why should these highly paid men be allowed to act any differently than you or I do or get a free pass on their behavior because they are athletes?  They may play a game for a living but that doesn't justify them acting like children.  Conducting their business in a mature and responsible manner does nothing to diminish the game.  In fact it can only serve to improve it.

MartyJenkins
MartyJenkins

@UlisseP @CoreyLivermoreall you are as a human is what your life is now - stop pretending like the black males of today are somehow tortured by the terrors that their ancestors has to endure.  All you are is what YOU are right now, and nothing more.  All hes saying is that if you're going to bad a racial slur, ban all racial slurs.  


Its not a complicated concept, and its fair.

MartyJenkins
MartyJenkins

@drudown @MarkPasquinelli nobody wants to hear this hear, otherwise we'd be on a full on political site.... get off your high-horse

I just skimmed it and it was bad enough

Mike26
Mike26

@drudown @MarkPasquinelli  Don't engage this idiot.  He attempts to drag down every single column that he can.  Never feed the troll that goes by drudown!

rckymtn4
rckymtn4

@drudown @MarkPasquinelli If he walked along the shore of mixing politics and sports, you dove into the lake swam to the bottom and rolled in the mud. Way out of line. Get back to the MSNBC web site.

Wombat
Wombat

@MoeLarryJesus @MarkPasquinelli  You cretin. I just miss the old days of the NFL without all the issues... You sir are a sad soul that stirs up issues just to be seen. Sad really...

Ilovemesomeme
Ilovemesomeme

@MoeLarryJesus @MarkPasquinelli Not sure what he said that you would deem to be "racist."  It was a baseless accusation.  Unfortunately that's become a tried and true tactic.  He wants to read football articles about football.  Not sure how that's racist. 

SemperFiDTM
SemperFiDTM

@Mike26 @drudown @MarkPasquinelli  Sure, Ill throw my hat in this ring....drudown, what your forgetting is that every single problem today can be traced back to President Rutherford B. Hayes' improper use of a bolo tie. And the lack of faith in both houses of congress started when members of the Whig party were caught without their toupee's. 


~ oureya nasay assinus.

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