Wednesday, February 3, 2016

2 Quarterbacks, 2 different paths.

The news, over the weekend, that Johnny Manziel did something stupid (again) followed up on Tuesday by the news that the Cleveland Browns have decided to admit their goof drafting him and cut bait in March when the salary cap is more forgiving was in stark contrast to the news surrounding another quarterback who was controversial coming out of college.

I'm referring to Cam Newton whose trouble these days lies in angering predominantly Caucasian sports writers because he has the temerity to suggest they criticize him, in part, because he is a black quarterback.

Is Cam correct?  I think, to a point, sure he is. Because Tom Brady has been known to gyrate and celebrate and no one bats an eye. Even Johnny Manziel, coming out of college, was roundly praised by the same sports writers for his antics. The problem, as I see it, is that the old guys who cover sports, and write about it, want every QB in the NFL to be a stoic giant in the manner of Peyton, or Montana, or Unitas. There's some 1960's mold that quarterbacks have always been asked to fit into, and Cam doesn't fit that mold.

Cam is street, and he's youth, and he does things that anger the football writing press.

And to that I say.  "Good."

Because the NFL needs it's teams to be more than the Houston Texans, a boring team that pulled off the almost impossible feat of making a boring season of Hard Knocks. They need players and coaches who aren't Bill Belicheck. They need characters, and Cam, whether you like him or not, is a character.

He's also a winning quarterback, which is (in part) why he gets away with it. Manziel went through the same histrionics when he scored, the money sign instead of Superman, the grin. Unfortunately he also is seemingly unable to control his desires (and fists, allegedly against women) off the field. Because of this he will soon find himself out of work and Cam might find himself the MVP of the league, Super Bowl, and Super Bowl champion.

While there are bad choices that led to Manziel's downfall he also had some bad luck as well.  For one, he was drafted by a Cleveland Browns team whose coaching staff seemingly didn't want anything to do with him.  Because of this he languished on the bench and never seemed to develop. Cam meanwhile was drafted by Carolina and it was clear that he was viewed as the face of the franchise going forward.

Such is the standard deviation that life throw at us. Cam had a good support system, Manziel was surrounded by people who are apparently the worst people in the world. Cam had talent around him, Manziel had nothing. Cam had a coach who crafted an offense that matched his style. Manziel had a head coach who shouldn't have been a head coach in the league.

In gambling, you probably call this luck. If you play poker then you know what I mean. I have probably played over 2 Million hands of poker in my lifetime. I have never made a Royal Flush. Not once, never. Not in friendly games, competitive games, video poker, live poker, poker for fun. If Cam Newton had my poker experience he would have over 100 Royal Flushes by now.

But, despite all of that I've still been fairly profitable at poker, just as Manziel could have made the best of his situation and made a career out of the NFL instead of throwing it away. We'll see if he can learn to grind wherever he lands next.

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