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Tuesday, August 6, 2013

The Rise and Fall of "Johnny Football"

Family –

I’ve taken a little time away from writing to focus on the upcoming football season, but that doesn’t mean that I’ve forgotten you or that there hasn’t been significant “events” arise in sport since my last post back in June.

I want to quickly call your attention to a phenomenon in football called the cutback. In this situation the running back is supposed to run to a certain lane or crease where the design of the play takes him. Sometimes, and almost instinctively the running back can “cut back” against the grain or against the flow of defensive pursuit in order to make a significant gain and in some cases score a touchdown.

Hold on… there’s more to it -

In some cases when the running back cuts back there isn’t a running lane for him and he runs squarely into the backside linebacker or whatever backside pursuit there might be. In this case there is usually a loss on the play, no gain and worse-case scenario… a turnover!
Now you may ask why the hell I would be talking about a cutback against the grain and what it has to do with character development and sport…

 I’m glad you asked.

Lemme ‘splain.

Houston…err… uh…  College Station – we have a problem!

What in the world is going on with our reigning Heisman Trophy Winner Johnny “Football?” Obviously this young man is having a problem adjusting to the high level of responsibility that comes with such an empowering honor. Between his out of control behavior at a sports bar that earned him a trip to court, his rants on Twitter that have drawn increased scrutiny from the media, his early dismissal from the Manning Passing Academy and now the pending investigation about NCAA violations which could render him ineligible for the coming season and ultimately cost him his Heisman (Ala Reggie Bush)! Jeez, this kid seems to be in way over his head! Some would even say he’s had serious lapses in judgment.

Huh? Is that it?
Manziel eludes a tackle versus Bama in 2012
Source: AP

Actually no… that isn’t it! If there was ever a case for there NOT to be a freshman (or redshirt freshman) football player being named the Heisman Trophy Winner, Johnny Football is the poster child. Now, in Manziel’s defense perhaps this is just a simple case of delayed maturation… or maybe someone in the athletic department at Texas A&M dropped the ball in not having a meeting with the Mr. Football and counseling him on the proper protocol and behavior becoming a national award winner… especially when representing not only himself and his family, but also Texas A&M University and the entire NCAA!

Oh wait… they did have a meeting with him… (big sigh)

Regardless, I’m not suggesting Manziel isn’t responsible for his current public disapproval rating. He’s made the decisions he’s made which have led to the circumstances he’s enduring right now. And quite frankly he’s made some bone-headed decisions… much like the running back who has a clear running lane and then all of the sudden, for no apparent reason, cuts back against the grain into a huge loss.

I guess the simplest way to say it is this: life is full of decisions. We make them all the time. Some good and some bad – ultimately we have to live with the consequences of the action. The good news is that one action does not dictate who you are as a person – most everyone makes mistakes (perhaps not as catastrophic in nature) but, at the end of the day those mistakes can be viewed in one of two ways.

First, it could be the end of the world and all could be lost – to the point that the very concept of moving on is the most overwhelming thought all by itself. Coupled with the embarrassment of facing public humiliation, judgment and not to mention the mental torture that we can all put ourselves through it would be easy to retreat into a hole and bury one’s self in despair.

Or… Manziel can just shut up and play football. At the end of the day he gained national attention because of what he did on the field… not for his antics off of the field. Seriously kid… just shut up and play.

Manziel’s behavior should be an “in yo’ face” reminder that this award is not only for the best football player in the country, but also the best all-around person who just happens to be the best football player in the country. Maybe… just maybe… our esteemed voters will remember that moving forward.

Just sayin’…