Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Leave the kid alone

Over the years, I have paid as little attention to what Joe Namath says as I possibly can. But something he said about Johnny Manziel on the NFL Network program Total Access the other day captured my attention and I found myself agreeing with him.

“I do know we love entertainment,” the Hall of Fame quarterback said. “Football is a sport, but it is show biz. It is entertainment. And Johnny (Manziel) – he’s got to live his life, man. Give him some room. . . . Give the man a little bit of room. In his position, he’s not entitled to be a regular guy. Everything’s blown out of whack.”

Last weekend at Club Rio in Austin, Texas, where the X Games were held, Manziel was photographed floating on a blown-up swan swigging something from a bottle (guesses range anywhere from water or ginger ale to something much more potable). Only he knows for sure and he isn’t talking.

The next day, he was selected in the 28th round of the amateur baseball draft by the San Diego Padres. Then he went to San Antonio to watch his buddy LeBron James beat the Spurs in game two of the NBA finals. And he was wearing a Cavaliers cap.

How do we know all this? After all, isn’t he just a rookie football player for the Browns? Isn’t what he does on the football field more important than what he does off the football field?

So getting back to the original question, how do we all know this? Through the diligent reporting of the Northeast Ohio Media Group, an offshoot (for lack of a better term) of the Cleveland Plain Dealer, that’s how.

The TMZ effect has finally infiltrated the NEOMG. Imagine getting excited about floating on an inflated swan. Stop and think about that for a moment. How stupid is that? Don’t answer. Rhetorical question.

About the only thing we don’t know from Manziel’s visit back to Texas this past weekend is which bathroom he used when he decided it was time to relieve himself. 

What makes this kid’s every move so special? How much further is this voyeurism going to last? This is nuts and unfortunately it’s going to get worse, a lot worse, before it settles down.

Next thing you know, we’ll know all about his bedroom habits; what he eats for breakfast; how fast his car can go on the highway; what brand of shaving cream he uses; where he shops for his clothes; what television shows he likes to watch. (Here’s guessing TMZ is not one of them.)

The kid is just beginning his professional football career. I rarely agree with anything Namath says, but this time, he’s exactly right. Relax. Leave Manziel alone. Give him some room. He’s a big boy.

Some will say he brings all this attention to himself with his flamboyant lifestyle. And to a certain extent they would be correct. But it’s not as though he can’t handle it. He seems to be doing and saying all the right things despite all the attention.

Why the media needs to be in his hip pocket no matter where he goes or what he does is puzzling. It reminds me somewhat of the Jim Carrey motion picture “The Truman Show”, where the main character’s entire life is a television show.

The only difference is Truman Burbank, an insurance salesman, has no idea he is  living under a gigantic microscope. Manziel does also – to a much lesser extent, of course – and thus far, seems to be handling it just right.

As long as it doesn’t affect him on the field, what difference does it make what he does off it? None is the correct answer. 

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