One of the most dry and rigid personalities in the NFL feels a strange connection to a 20-year old who has become the embodiment of everything that is wrong with college football.
Baltimore Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco is known for his unflappable, even-keeled persona that is as dry as the Texas sagebrush that dots the plains surrounding College Station, Texas, the home of Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel.
It is Manziel, of course, the Heisman Trophy winner who is under fire this offseason for everything from his antics at the Manning Passing Camp to supposedly taking money to sign autographs, a claim that caused him to be suspended for the first half of the Aggies' season opener on Saturday against Rice.
So it's odd that Flacco has taken to liking Manziel and the black hat he wears.
Manziel has become a lightning rod for criticism, something that quiet, unflustered Flacco would appear to be the opposite of in every form. In fact, Flacco is bland. How bland is he? He famously celebrated his contract extension this spring with a trip to McDonald’s.
But Flacco has drawn criticism this offseason for a monster contract that many critics say he doesn’t deserve. In addition, fans in Denver have taken umbrage that his face is hanging alongside Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning outside Sports Authority Field at Mile High in Denver. Of course, these aren’t exactly things that make Flacco a villain, but he does sense that there are those out there who are drinking some serious haterade concerning him.
So all this leads Flacco to like what he sees in Manziel in what is a truly bizarre kinship.
“Being hated is not a bad thing,” Flacco told USA Today. “I don’t know if I’ll be too popular after this: I [didn’t] know how I really felt about Johnny Manziel. But I feel like now that everybody hates him, he’s quickly becoming my favorite player in college football.”
Manziel drew criticism this week for an unsportsmanlike penalty after he celebrated a fourth quarter touchdown by pointing at the scoreboard. Earlier in the game, he had an autograph celebration where he mimicked signing a signature, obviously a reference to his recent scandal.
This weekend, Flacco probably lived it up and went a little crazy at Waffle House.
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Kristian R. Dyer contributes to Yahoo! Sports and covers the Jets for Metro New York and is on Twitter @KristianRDyer