Johnny Football, Oregon Culture, and an Era Lost
“Whatever is the natural propensity of a person is hard to overcome. If a dog were to be made king, he would still gnaw at his shoelaces.” The Hitopadesha
Although he is in the process of doing it incrementally, I certainly hope that Johnny Manziel will not confirm his father’s fear and commit suicide in one fell swoop. New Age folk will, of course, say that poor Johnny Football needs help. The poor child is addicted to x, y and z AND IT’S NOT HIS FAULT!
As an unabashed, unashamed and unapologetic Old School Guy, I am calling male bovine excrement on this undeserved sympathy. And I’d like to point out that the most widely read book in the history of our species, the Bible, has stated it quite clearly and succinctly for thousands of years: YOU REAP WHAT YOU SOW.
I recognize that referring back to old school civility and discipline is largely a useless exercise in a world where everyone gets a trophy no matter how badly they perform and criticizing Johnny, Jamal or Keyshawn may injure the poor child’s self esteem. Nevertheless, I can assure you that if any of my teammates had tried to show off and show up our opponent by flashing the Johnny Manziel ’cash money’ sign or otherwise we, his own brothers, would have beaten the whey out of him.
We fought our asses off but we also believed in something called ‘sportsmanship.’ Your opponent deserved respect and the team mattered and not an individual, no matter how much an impact he had on a game’s outcome. There was a time when we did not countenance ‘trash talking’ and ‘in your face’ behavior. A time when people were actually civil to one another and where people actually had to look someone in the face to disparage them, not hide behind a keyboard.
As an old school guy I always try to follow the teaching of the great Martin Luther King Jr. To judge a person based upon character and not his or her color, sex, religious belief, etc. So I do not care what color you are, stop the damn chirping, trash talking, ill mannered, ignorant, show off behavior. Play the game between the lines and not with your mouth. Play the game to win and not to self aggrandize and humiliate. Be humble in victory and gracious in defeat.
I am 69 years of age and obviously things are different today than when I was growing up under the pervasive fear of the Soviet Menace. Our fathers, for the most part, were combat veterans. Our mothers had undoubtedly lost a sibling, relation or close friend in WWII combat. We spent all day outdoors with some kind of ball or hockey puck in play. When you came home with a boo-boo, Mom most certainly was not going to go boo-hoo and run you off to the emergency room or look around for someone to sue.
Believe it or not, accidents actually happened back then. It certainly was not all good. It was not a good time for people of color and it was not a good time for females who wanted to be involved in football without having to wear a short skirt and jump around on the sidelines. And I further caveat the following by saying that I was not an all-award-winning parent. But where in the hell was Johnny Football’s father and mother? Where in the hell were his high school coaches? Because the self-absorbed, me-first conduct of John Manziel does not happen overnight.
Where was the so-called ‘great coach’ Kevin Sumlin? A guy who won big in Year 1 at TAM with Mike Sherman’s recruits and a lightning in the bottle QB by the name of John Manziel. A guy whose team has steadily declined year after year. A guy who seems lost since his O coordinator Cliff Kingsbury took off for Texas Tech. A guy who cannot coach up 4- and 5-star QBs and other kids he has enticed to come to A+M. A guy who will accept aberrant behavior so long as it leads the way to the ATM.
Most importantly, I cannot imagine Johnny Football blowing by Chip Kelly on his way to the bench after a turnover and not having his rear end nailed to the bench. As a matter of fact, I am inclined to believe the hearsay that says early on Chip knew that Manziel was a self-entitled jerk and he was politely asked by Kelly to go elsewhere.
Whether or not he came through as a football player, Marcus Mariota was bound to succeed in one form or another. Why? Because of the manner in which he was raised to be a competitor who treated people with humility and respect. A person far more interested in the success of his team than in promoting himself.
Like targeting, unsportsmanlike conduct should lead to a game ejection and missing the entirety of the next game whether the penalty comes as the result of physical or verbal misconduct. What in the hell does trash talking have to do with the game of football?
Top Photo from Cleveland Browns Video