A Finger Gets a Knee: The New NFL Lesson?
~ Amy Lignor
Okay, okay…we don’t need to be overly funny here, right? Well…we kind of have to, considering the Pittsburgh Steelers’ fans took this one and ran with it, producing a truly hysterical NFL collectible. This is a collectible created to be a welcoming sight to a young man by the name of Johnny Manziel. (AKA: ‘Johnny
Football’ – although the shine is now definitely off the gem). This collectible will be waved in the air by Pittsburgh fans as the Cleveland Browns play against the Steelers in Week 1 of the NFL season.
This is already proving to be a season to look forward to; with some players’ summer vacations taking a toll on both their own careers and their teams. But Manziel has actually brought a spot of fun to the gridiron, and fans can’t wait to watch this young QB begin to pay his dues.
This all began with Manziel flipping the literal bird to the sidelines of the Washington Redskins when the Browns met them in preseason play last week. The rookie (already showing he does have skill, yet an ego that’s not yet fitting into the football helmet), was playing for the starting QB position. He was not the best, but his opponent wasn’t exactly the best either. So Johnny certainly had a shot at leading off the season and becoming yet another ‘Kap’ (San Francisco’s rookie who has now scored a contract for a whole lot of dough).
Steelers’ fans love controversy. Therefore, what better way to wave ‘hello’ to Cleveland and Manziel when they arrive, than to wear special yellow foam fingers (one is still raised, yet this time it is the middle one), that literally “Welcomes Johnny” to their world. Yes, it will be heckling. And, yes, it will spell out ‘loud and clear’ that football season has FINALLY arrived.
Now…did the gesture by Manziel lead to the fact that the starting QB position is not his? It may be part of the reason. Brian Hoyer nabbed the starting QB spot and Johnny will stand on the sidelines whether he likes it or not. But in reality, the gesture would’ve ended up meaning nothing if this rookie had come on like the sensation everyone thought he would. But Johnny didn’t exactly show his future ‘Super Bowl-winning’ talents. Instead, he showed the coach that although the abilities are there, he is just not ready to start in the NFL.
At first, Manziel looked to be a shoo-in for the starting position when this all began. After all, Hoyer has just come off knee surgery and has only four career starts to his name. But the offensive game is a complex one when it comes to Cleveland, so four starts at the helm is better than none. But most likely, there is also a little smack upside the head wrapped up in the decision to give the job to Hoyer – letting Johnny know that he’s not in college anymore. All eyes are upon him now; therefore, he must leave the stupid little boy gestures behind and begin the first step of his (what many feel will be) amazing career.
He has taken over the media, fans, and even some of his teammates – all of whom like the guy and feel that his future will be great. Even Wide Receiver Nate Burleson stated that he is a “Johnny Football” fan.
Manziel also has major positives, like studying and learning Kyle Shanahan’s playbook and making smarter decisions when it comes to moving the ball. He’s even proved a lot of people wrong by showing a solid work ethic. And perhaps, he will one day be able to erase the well-documented ‘party boy’ persona and show the world that humility is definitely a factor in his attitude.
In the end, to be fair, the gesture made by Johnny may have seemed like a little boy thing to do, but I doubt very much when teams are standing across from one another, with ten seconds on the clock, on the one-yard line needing only one point to win, that they’re exchanging cookie recipes. This is a man’s man sport, so being a little insolent is more than acceptable.
The kid will learn. But first, he will have to take his hits on and off the field, and smile at the cameras on Week 1 as Pittsburgh fans ‘wave’ – welcoming ‘Johnny Football’ to the real world of the NFL.