Football: inside and outside the lines. The Idle American.


Johnny Manziel: When will a great football player grow up?
Johnny Manziel: When will a great football player grow up?

Though football is “gorilla big” in Texas, headlines splashed atop sports pages heralding the 2013 season had little to do with action on the field–particularly the collegiate and pro games.

First high school games–called “zero week” contests–score highest on the scale of legitimacy.  Meanwhile, pro teams wind up meaningless exhibition games and many colleges open with “David and Goliath” contests. The latter, pitting the “have much” against the “have little,” almost always results in lop-sided victories on the shameful side of overkill.  My head always tilts when I read winning scores in the 60s and 70s. In such games, losers’ scores are zero, or very near. These are the games that deserve “zero week” distinction.

Would that collegiate, professional and high school football brain trusts tear a page from the six-man football rule book. With a higher value on sportsmanship and common sense than polls and rankings, these teams “go to the house” when leading by at least 45 points at the half—or later. (Oh, I guess the bands can go ahead with half-time shows, thus sending fans home with slightly sweeter tastes in their mouths.) At pro and collegiate games where tickets often fetch high into three digits, fans might question the cost-per-entertainment-minute if sent home at half-time. Hunters, however, are not deterred when pressed to confess the actual cost-per-pound of game yielded in bird or deer hunts.


   Recent pro headlines center on thousands of retirees claiming major NFL injuries.

Imagine an NFL scrooge–brows twitching and eyes narrowing–raging, “If those guys think they can milk the NFL for millions, they’d better get their heads examined.”

Well, the claimants did exactly that. And they’re now in the market for milking machines. All this in light of the league’s agreement to make things right, starting with a distribution of $765 million and more likely to come.


   Quarterbacks are again in sharp focus, but so far, most “news” involves items other than yards gained, passes thrown or other exploits associated with the QB position.

Tim Tebow, Heisman Trophy winner who played four years at the University of Florida, endeared himself to much of America with on-the-field play and the kind of humility worthy of emulation.

At the pro level, though, he has experienced limited success. He has now been traded or cut by three teams. Head held high, Tebow has expressed thanks for the opportunities and moved on. He continues to wear well with most fans, and may eventually make his mark at some position other than quarterback.


   Perhaps too much is expected of the current Heisman honoree, Johnny Manziel. Oh, he’s getting plenty of “pub,” albeit too much of it for the wrong reasons.

With the honor going to the winner at age 19–unprecedented in previous Heisman balloting–he’s had chances to wander from the “straight and narrow”–at every hand and every hour.

The Shakespearean quote says much: “Uneasy lies the head that wears the crown.”


   My hunch is that Manziel is marking days off the calendar until NFL draft time. I wish him and the Aggies well, but fear the worst. Distractions poison and kill.

Coach Kevin Sumlin, handling matters with good judgment and courage, has made it clear what he will NOT tolerate. I believe the coach is a “class act.”

Interestingly (and most sentences beginning with this word aren’t), the NCAA dragged its feet for weeks before handing down a one-half game suspension to “Johnny Football” for what was described as an “inadvertent” transgression. It took Sumlin only a few seconds to bench him for almost one quarter following what he viewed as an “advertent” one.


   It’s story time. A pitifully poor football team wound up with a 0-10 season. An opposing coach, trying to console the losing mentor, confessed that the backs “tipped their plays” throughout the season. “We always knew who was going to carry the ball,” he claimed.

“How could you possibly know that?” the beaten-down coach questioned.

“It’s really simple–before each snap, one of your backs is as white as a sheet, and the other three are giggling.”

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