Originally posted on The Sports Headquarters  |  Last updated 1/6/13
America really is such a dirty slut. Whether it’s teen heartthrobs, musicians, television shows, etc., our culture is constantly jumping from one thing to another. The Swizz Beats produced Jay-Z hit “On to the Next One” just about sums up what I’m talking about. One second, we are enamored by some trend, fad, or individual and then – almost in the same instance – we are captivated by the direct antithesis of the former apple of our collective eye. It’s truly amazing. Look at Denver Broncos’ fans for example. In 2011, Tim Tebow could do no wrong. Skip Bayless was their hero. Tebow was getting MVP chants and retailers couldn’t even keep his jersey on the shelves. Yet the SECOND rumors began circulating that Peyton Manning was considering signing with the Broncos, all of that loyalty went out the window. Tebow quicky transformed into Bart Simpson when he became infamous for his “I didn’t do it!” catchphrase which allowed him to live in the limelight. And now Broncos’ fans are all but guaranteeing a Super Bowl victory at the hands of their savior Peyton Manning. So what’s my point? Americans are unpredictable in the way that they are incredibly predictable when it comes to our idols. As the late Al Davis told us, “Just win, baby!” Enter: Johnny Manziel: America’s newest crush. Since Johnny Football beat Alabama there has been no bigger superstar in American sports. The case could be made for Adrian Peterson while he was on his quest to break Eric Dickerson’s single-season rushing record, but that was more of a one weekend occurrance. Plus, we already knew that Peterson was a beast sent to us from the future. That’s old hat. What 99% of American’s did not know this September is that some crater-faced, 18-year old would set the College Football world ablaze with his play on the field. What 100% of people did not know is how much his life off of the field would directly corralate with that affection. Look at Rob Gronkowski. In New England, Gronk has become a man of legend for his ability to catch touchdowns at a historic rate on the field while fornicating with any female with a pulse off of it. When the Patriots lost the Super Bowl to the New York Giants videos surfaced online of Gronk RAGING with LMFAO during a Super Bowl afterparty with seemingly zero regaurd for his injured ankle. And while there was an initial wave of backlash from angered fans who had just witnessed yet another crushing defeat to the hands of the Giants, it was soon forgotten and forgiven. Pornstars, butcherings of the Spanish (and sometimes Englsih) language, the revival of Zubaz, lude pictures to Kate Upton, you name it, Gronk has been praised for it. And he will continue to have this cult following… until the next guy comes along. Pulling a quick 180 – let’s examine Jeremy Lin. The old story of a kid who came out of nowhere to rise to NBA stardom. Add in the fact that he was Asian (I completely understand he was born in America) and Linsanity became a global event before ESPN could milk it for all its worth. For that 10-game stretch in early 2012, it did not get bigger than Jeremy Lin. Much like Tebow – who we will revisit shortly – retailers could not keep Linsanity merchandise on the shelves. Even Spike Lee used his connections to wrangle himself a Jeremy Lin Harvard jersey. Because, you know, Spike was clearly a huge Lin fan during his days in Cambridge much like he was of Wilson Chandler’s when he was that, “brother from DePaul.” Yet as well as Lin played off of the court during that brief span, his life off of the court was as big of a story as anything. He was sleeping on Landry Fields’ couch. A professional basketball player was sleeping on another man’s couch. He wore bowties and loved Jesus. He was briefly tied to Kim Kardashian, which he wisely avoided like a plague of locusts. He was rewarded with a large contract from the Houston Rockets and now he is just another NBA player who now cannot ever possibly live up to the hype he was born into. Is it fair? Absolutely. And that’s where Tebow comes back into play. Tim Tebow was an absolute mega-star during his days at Florida. The two-time National Champion and Heisman Trophy winner was a different type of icon. He didn’t drink. He didn’t swear. He was a devout son of Christ who remained a virgin until the Jets screwed him over (HEY NOW!). He did missionary work and was as wholesome as could be – especially for a quarterback at a major college in the SEC. Can you even begin to imagine how difficult that would be for any man? I know I certainly would have Gronk’d my way through that campus had I been given the opportunity. Yet Tebow was a College Football legend and remains one of the best to ever take the field in the collegiate ranks. Now what does that mean in terms of his production in the NFL? A whole lot of nothing. Remember, we’re talking about the love affair with the individual player. All that stems from on the field play. Whether or not the puppy love turns into a full fledged long term relationship is determined by the individuals persona as well as their play. For Tebow, this has become more than apparent during his professional career to date. In Denver he went from “Why was he drafted so high?” to “See what he did during the last two games of the season?” to “He’s coming into the season third on the depth chart?!” to “Tebow is the driving force behind this team. A fan favorite and a borderline religion unto himself!” to “I can’t believe he just beat the Pittsburgh Steelers in the playoffs!” to “Well, who could have beat the Patriots in New England, really?” and finally ending with “He can’t throw! Get him out of here and bring in Manning! We were a quarterback away from the Super Bowl last season!” Then the Jets traded for him and it became a circus. Now it’s at the point where ESPN has issued an apology saying they over-analyzed Tebow mania. But, did they? Did they over-analyze Linsanity? What about the Dwightmare or “The Decision”? How about the Carmelo Anthony saga when he wanted out of Denver? Or Brett Favre’s retirement-unretirement-retirement nonsense? If it’s what the people are talking about – which networks like ESPN can now closely monitor with devices such as Twitter, Facebook, and analytics tools such a Google – then why not give them what they want? Well, for the better part of the next four years that man will be Johnny Manziel. The first freshman ever to outright claim the Heisman Trophy already set the bar exceedingly high for himself. Will he be able to live up to those expectations? Will his college career be viewed as a failure if he never wins a National Championship? What if he never wins another Heisman Trophy? Is his game even suited for the NFL or is he the prototypical college quarterback who cannot make the jump? Are you starting to see how a talk show can fill a half hour with one person? But, that’s only one show which they will be able to have for the next two seasons. The reason Manziel will stay on the tip of everyone’s tounge is his off the field antics. I don’t mean antics as a bad thing, either. But if you haven’t been following closely, the man has been absolutely crushing life since his arrival at College Station. Ridiculously hot females draped as his arm candy. Twitter conversations like a boss with the likes of Bryce Harper, Larry Fitzgerald, Bubba Watson, and one of the dudes from Duck Dynasty. Gambling in casinos as if he isn’t one of the most recognizable freshman on the planet. Yeah, there’s going to be some things going on over the next few years which will give people plenty to dish over the man with the easy to remember nickname. Quite frankly, I love it. Good for him. Who knows what could happen in his life over that time span. It’s not like he’s playing a sport with a low major injury factor like basketball or baseball. His career could be over in one play. The fact that this 18-year old, much like Bryce Harper, doesn’t seem to be worried about consequences of his behavior makes him an endeering character. You don’t have to like him, but you will talk about him. The old addage, “Bad press is better than no press at all,” has always rang true. Cam Newton bought a stolen laptop, was kicked out of Florida, and won a National Championship at Auburn in a three year span. Since Manziel has already established himself as a legend at Texas A&M, he would have to do something just short of murder to get kicked out. Plus, the world loves a comeback story. Just look at Robert Downey, Jr. and Charlie Sheen. Hell, look at Josh Hamilton. I don’t know if Johnny Manziel is going to be the next Tom Brady or the next Ryan Leaf when it’s his turn at the next level. I’m not even sure if he’s the next Cam Newton or Tim Tebow when it comes to National Championships. But I do know he’s already won over the respect of his peers in the college ranks, his superiors in the NFL, and the media nationwide. Keep the legend growing and there’s no telling what he could accomplish before his name is called in the NFL Draft. Just don’t take any money from agents. People still have a mighty large stick up their ass when it comes to that.
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