Here we go again…
Earlier this offseason, Cleveland Browns QB Johnny Manziel, aka Johnny Football, created headlines with his off-the-field antics, mainly his excessive partying. Last night, Manziel took his antics to a new level and a much bigger stage: Monday Night Football. After throwing an incomplete pass during a drive that would later lead to his first NFL touchdown, a visibly frustrated Manziel flipped his middle finger towards the Washington Redskins’ sideline.
Obviously, an obscene gesture like that is completely unprofessional and has no place in the NFL. However, Manziel wasn’t flagged for it. Very shocking considering that among the new NFL rules for the 2014 season is an addition to the unsportsmanlike conduct which aims to remove foul language from the game. According to the foul language rule, any abusive or derogatory language between players (or players and officials), will be met with a flag and possibly a 15-yard penalty. While I see that this rule refers to foul language, throwing up a middle finger should be flagged since it is basically expressing a derogatory phrase. It’s even worse than using foul language on the field because it was seen by the entire audience during replays.
Following the game, Manziel stated, “I get words exchanged with me throughout the game, through the entirety of every game, week after week. Should have been smarter. It was a Monday Night football game so the cameras were probably solidly on me so you need to be smarter about that.”
This wasn’t an apology. It was an “I’m sorry for getting caught”. Manziel needs to own up to his actions, apologize, and move on to letting his plays,rather than his antics, make headlines especially since he’s been penalized in the past for gestures on the field. Last year, Texas A&M coach Kevin Sumlin benched Manziel after he taunted a couple of Rice players by pointing towards the scoreboard. Even though the benching occurred on A&M’s final drive of the game, it was Sumlin’s attempt at showing Manziel that gestures like that won’t be tolerated on the field. It doesn’t appear that Manziel learned his lesson but perhaps he will after being fined by the NFL (something that will likely happen).
For someone nicknamed Johnny Football by his fans and supporters, you’d think we’d be hearing more about the plays he’s making during practice and how he scored his first NFL touchdown last night. It’s time to put the football back into his name. Come on, Johnny!