By Tim Baffoe-
He’s an affront to all of a prudent college football fan’s delicate sensibilities because in the eyes of many a fan of an amateur sport played by many under-the-table non-amateurs guided by accoladed pimps, college sports are pure and wonderful, and please don’t corrupt my cheering experience by pointing out the NCAA and everyone involved with it is severely flawed.
Actually, even for most of the pragmatic consumers, save Joe Flacco, he’s a fairly big stroke.
But as members of America’s screaming conscience are wont to do, Manziel this week is being taken to the woodshed of sports piety by just a few folks over the heinous gestures he made during Saturday’s game versus Rice and for (not) ignoring his coach on the sidelines. Here. Here. And here. Also here. Over here. And it gave Lou Holtz a sad.
Most of this hand-wringing is a byproduct of Manziel getting off fairly scot-free for probably attempting to profit off his own name or at least letting other people do so. Because he is a student-athlete after all and at Texas A&M to take online cupcake courses first and be a football player second, and he must be publicly flogged for not allowing already rich people with surely his best interests in mind make all the money possible off his name.
When will this whippersnapper learn that being a jackass is reserved for the private life of NCAA athlete? Candidness about personal flaws and a blatant disregard for the standards that so many college celebrities don’t live up to either is not what the country looks for in its Heisman winners. You bow down to your corrupt master and like it, son.
How dare this flashy, cocky kid at the flashiest and cockiest of sports positions be so brazen in his demeanor on the field and sidelines and grab the country’s attention and drive up ratings even if only for hate-watching. Our favorite sport of subconscious bloodlust and car-accident fixation needs to be played the right way, gosh darn it, and that means no room for such individuality and devil-may-caredness toward the proper way for people to engage in a money-printing extracurricular activity.
Because you sure shall boo the gladiator when he doesn’t kill in a way that makes you comfortable. You are not entertained.
But you can’t look away, can you? Johnny Football is appointment television. And so then is talking about Johnny Football, who is then back to being called Johnny Manziel when he does something distasteful, a lot like being scolded in the first-middle-last name style by a watchful parent. (“Timothy Jadeveon Baffoe, put down that copy of Mitch Albom’s book before you hurt yourself!”)
It feels so good to hate a guy like Manziel, doesn’t it? Especially when you were somewhere between apathetic and enamored with him just a year ago. You watch his games to root against him, and if he loses you get to be justified in sermonizing about the million-dollar arm failing because of the ten-cent soul. He is so much of what is loathsome about society and yet what we kinda sorta secretly wish we were but can never be.
He’s good at what he does without any humility. The insufferable d-bag at the bar who scores the girl you’ll never get and will die, after a life of recklessness and dirty living, at the age of 90 hang gliding into a mountain of cocaine and lingerie models while you slip in the shower next week and drown in the fear of your daughter finding comfort in his arms. A guy who has the cojones to grab the world by its own and squeezes them just a bit too tight too often and cares not for its cries of “uncle.”
It’s intoxicating and infuriating. And so then you must doth protest too much.
You crap on his attitude and crap on his attitude toward your attitude about his attitude. Oh, does it grind your gears when he dismisses the haters and says things like “I don’t try to focus on anything that doesn’t affect me personally and how I go out there every single day. I’m just going to continue to work hard and focus on what I can control.” What a little jerk to not give credence to his detractors.
Oh, wait. That was Tim Tebow, wholesome college football player turned bad professional football player. He who got flagged for taunting in the most important game of his career and probably also had a week of scrutiny for it. Maybe. No? The same guy whose individuality and separation from the pack has been embraced by so many and largely thrust upon him by some.
But Tebow’s style, even if stripped away of the religiosity, sits just fine with most. He’s the All-American boy who is just happy to be here (or was until last week). His is the easiest of placebos to swallow because he doesn’t make anyone question his or her scruples, and therefore his lack of actual football talent can take a backseat to his aura. Tebow as Kardashianic undeserved celebrity is greater than Tebow as football player. In fact, Tebow as football player has only worked to destroy the cultish figure it bore. Proving his football inferiority has taken him out of the league (for now, at least, but hopefully for good), and thus eventually off our televisions as mythic panel topic.
Manziel may not become a solid NFL quarterback (the jury is still out, and I lean toward the league quickly chewing him up and spitting him back into civilian life), but there is no question that he can actually play football that isn’t the anti-NFL style of Tebow’s spectacular career in college. But be sure to be sanctimonious on Manziel as football’s Miley Cyrus, twerking away every last inch of the collegiate game fairy tale while he, like the once-pure Miley, laughs at your warped Puritanism and just maybe also at how you’re not in on the joke of it all. Bemoan the personality traits that have nothing to do with football and call them “liabilities” while calling those of others “intangibles.”
Because Manziel, too, as measuring stick of your own gut-checks and egos and hypocrisies is greater than Manziel the football player. He brings out the worst in you so that you can feel better about yourself and the game you love. He is either a creator of hate which you need to feel to affirm your own existence, or he is a potential train wreck that will sooth your superior soul with schadenfreude.
You need a Johnny Manziel. And you are therefore lying if you say you are not entertained.
Tim Baffoe attended the University of Iowa before earning his degree from Governors State University and began blogging at The Score after winning the 2011 Pepsi Max Score Search. He enjoys writing things about stuff, but not so much stuff about things. When not writing for 670TheScore.com, Tim corrupts America’s youth as a high school English teacher and provides a great service to his South Side community delivering pizzas (please tip him and his colleagues well). You can follow Tim’s inappropriate brain droppings on Twitter @TimBaffoe , but please don’t follow him in real life. He grew up in Chicago’s Beverly To read more of Tim’s blogs click here.