Emmitt Smith is the latest athlete, analyst, talking head, prognosticator – you name it – to weigh in on Johnny Manziel’s off-the-field lifestyle. Like some out there in the press corps, Emmitt sees Manziel’s revelry as detrimental to a budding career. In an interview on a Dallas radio station, Emmitt had the following to say:
“That lifestyle is going to be a short lifestyle — a short career lifestyle — if he continues that,” said Smith. “As we used to say, you can’t keep burning the candle at both ends of the stick. The candle gets small fairly quick. Johnny is going to have to figure it out.”
Emmitt fairly acknowledged that he was once “young and dumb,” before discussing the necessity of player maturation.
“First, let’s recognize — Johnny is young. I was young and dumb myself at one point in time,” said Smith. “But maturity itself, and maturing as a professionalathlete, is something that is required of every pro football player. I think right now Johnny Manziel is going to get a glimpse of what negative press can do for you. A lot of people think negative press is good press — or any press is good press. It’s not.”
While interesting to hear a Hall of Famer’s take on budding NFL careers, let’s address the two pachyderms in the room.
First being that Emmitt played on the 1990s Dallas Cowboys. If you haven’t read Jeff Pearlman’s excellent book, “Boys Will Be Boys,” I highly recommend it. It chronicles those halcyon years in the Big D, and touches on such fun topics as players’ (most definitely including Michael Irvin) drug usage, players’ proclivity to solicit high-grade prostitutes, and Charles Haley’s love of jacking off in front of teammates.
And those teams won titles.
So about all that maturity stuff, just save it. Not everyone is Tim Tebow (you know, the virgin choirboy who washed out of the league). Partiers (Brett Favre, Ben Roethlisberger, et al.) win titles. More subdued guys (Drew Brees, Russell Wilson, et al.) win titles. There’s no set standard for a champion (at least off the field).
And as for the negative press, pfft. If his coaches and teammates don’t care, then how is it negative? The man steps out of his house and it’s front page news. The guy is 21, doing what many folks that age do. What’s the issue? If lineman was a glamor position and cameras were trained on those guys, then TMZ would have to double up on its staff – because I can assure you Manziel isn’t the only guy raging on weekends. He’s just in the public eye.
When specifically discussing Manziel’s drinking, Emmitt had the following to say:
“Hopefully he’s not doing anything to hurt himself outside of drinking — which is going to harm his body and harm his performance anyway. At the end of the day, he’s going to have to learn to manage those things.”
But here’s the thing: what if Manziel already has managed those things? What if he’s a weekend warrior like so many other working adults? What if he’s a teetotaler other than when prying cameras and voyeuristic sites publicize his parties? What if, gasp, the guy actually knows what he’s doing.
After all, he did win a Heisman Trophy. He was drafted in the first round. And he does hang around people such as Drake and LeBron James – wealthy professionals at the tops of their respective careers.
It’s not like he’s posting pictures of blunts on Twitter (like other Browns players of the past). He’s not getting in fights with strippers named Sweet Pea while riding around on a party bus. And It’s not like he just beat the shit out of his fiancee in a casino.
The guy is having fun. In the offseason. So what.
Not everyone can burn the candle at both ends, but every once in a while a Keith Richards slides through the cracks and proves the world wrong. Manziel’s career will unfold naturally, and it probably will have nothing to do with the latest dimepiece on his arm. If anything, playing for the Browns is probably the biggest factor going against him (sorry, Dawg Pound).
Going on a bender the Saturday before a game: problematic. Blowing off steam in June: BFD. Besides, if Johnny Manziel stops partying, what else would we write/talk about in the offseason?