It’s the scent of pigskin, the distinctly American odor of NFL football lingering just around the corner. The first preseason game is this Sunday, and we won’t have a gridiron-free weekend until 2015 (hide yo’ wives; hide yo’ girlfriends; hide yo’ non-football-obsessed boyfriends and husbands). The humble hometown kid versus the brand that is Johnny Football (no, really; it’s trademarked).
Nowhere in America is there a more fun storyline to chew on right now than in northeast Ohio, where the infamous Johnny Manziel and the largely unknown Brian Hoyer battle it out for the privilege of quarterbacking the Cleveland Browns. The competition is NFL training camp theater at its finest.
In one corner, Johnny Football, née Johnny Manziel, the lovably rebellious rookie from Texas A&M whose nickname is even better in its less common permutation: Johnny Fuckin’ Football (JFF for short). As a collegian, Manziel broke plays with aplomb to make the impossible a reality while antagonizing crowds, thumbing his nose at the NCAA’s pretenses of amateurism and raging like the scion of Texas oil money he is. In short, JFF DGAF.
This battle for Browns starting quarterback pits the career backup against the audacious rookie. Grit and persistence versus an electrifying athlete who many hate for doing things they wish they had the money, fame and balls to do. The humble hometown kid versus the brand that is Johnny Football (no, really; it’s trademarked).
Manziel gets name-dropped in Drake lyrics, is represented by LeBron James’ marketing company and jet-sets to a seemingly never-ending series of parties and events that look straight out of a Bud Light commercial. He drinks from massive golden bottles while perched atop inflatable swans. He rolls $20 bills into tight cylinders while inside crowded bathrooms (draw your own conclusions).
Contrast that with Hoyer. After three years of backing up Brady, the Patriots cut him in August 2012. Hoyer’s career looked like it was over. He headed back to Cleveland, gave his old high school coach a ring and, The New York Times reported last year, “patiently threw pass after pass to a bunch of eager teenagers and waited for a call inviting him back to the pros.” Read more…