- The Washington Times - Tuesday, August 19, 2014

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

Just think — if Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones had his way, Johnny Football would be giving Washington Redskins fans the finger at least once every season.

Deadspin is reporting that an excerpt from the Jim Dent book, “Manziel Mania,” Jones actually had to be physically stopped by his son Stephen from drafting Manziel when the Cowboys came up at No. 16 in the first round.

“Cowboys vice president Stephen Jones had snatched the Manziel card straight out of his dad’s hands,” Dent wrote. “Otherwise, Jerry would have drafted him and JFF would have sat for at least three years behind Tony Romo.”

I’m not sure about the latter part of that. Jerry wouldn’t have drafted Johnny Football to let him sit, not when he and Redskins owner Daniel Snyder could have had their own “Nickname Bowl” — Johnny Football vs. SuperBob — twice a year, filling the void of their Super Bowl fantasies.

Twice a year, at least, as long as Robert “SuperBob” Griffin III survived.


SEE ALSO: Redskins notebook: Griffin still trying to master art of sliding


As it is, the two Heisman Trophy winners reside in different conferences. Maybe the NFC East would have just been too big for both.

The first “Nickname Bowl” Monday night at FedEx Field between the Washington Redskins and Cleveland Browns was disappointing, save for Johnny Football’s one-fingered salute to the Redskins bench, which, according to reports, had been verbally offending his sensibilities.

Browns cornerback Joe Haden — who hails from Prince George’s County — told reporters after the game that abuse Johnny Football was taking was some of the “worst things you could ever imagine, from everybody, their players, their fans.”

Seriously? What did he face when he played for Texas A&M — choir boys?

“With me, since my name has grown bigger and people have known who I am, it just continues to go as the games continue to go on,” Johnny Football told reporters after the game. “I don’t know if there is a single level of severity each game, but I know it’s there and it’s present every game. I just need to let it slide off my back and go to the next play. I feel like I did a good job of holding my composure throughout the night and you have a lapse of judgment and slip up.

“There’s always words exchanged on the football field,” he said. “I had words exchanged with me throughout the entirety of the game, every game, week after week. I should have been smarter.”

That is the burden of new Browns coach Mike Pettine — to make the nickname smarter and turn him into an NFL quarterback.

“We talk about being poised, being focused,” Pettine said. “You have to be able to maintain your poise. It’s a big part of all football players, especially the quarterback. We have to keep our composure and that is something we will obviously address.”

New Redskins coach Jay Gruden has his own issues trying turn the nickname into an NFL quarterback — survival.

SuperBob continues to be a “work in progress” — his own words — as he prepares for his third NFL season, and that work, from what we saw Monday night, still centers around his ability to survive in this league.

“It’s going to continually be a work in progress,” SuperBob told reporters after the game. “I’m going to keep focusing on getting down in those situations, knowing when to fight for the extra yards and knowing when not to.”

It’s hard for a superhero to know his limitations, though. Really, that’s the essence of what we are talking about here. Gruden is just trying to convince SuperBob that he is not superhuman, like team doctor and coach killer Dr. James Andrews said last year during the quarterback’s recovery from knee surgery.

“It is something that we have to continue to talk to him about,” Gruden told reporters after the game. “How important he is to this team and this franchise. When he gets out of the pocket, he needs to protect himself. He has a habit in his career of being able to get himself out of predicaments with his speed and his athleticism. But here, it is a 16-game season with great talent across the league. He has to pick his shots and learn how to get down a little bit better.”

One nickname needs to control his emotions, while the other needs to control his talent.

Both said they will try to do better.

“It was a Monday Night Football game and the cameras were probably solidly on me, and I need to be smarter about that,” Johnny Football said.

“The fans have nothing to worry about,” SuperBob said. “I’ll keep getting better at that, I promise you.”

Thom Loverro is co-host of “The Sports Fix,” noon to 2 p.m. daily on ESPN 980 radio and espn980.com.

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