There are a couple ways to look at Johnny Manziel's pro day on Thursday, and all the hullabaloo that surrounded it.
On one hand, if anyone needed a quiet, conservative pro day it might have been Manziel, who has famously drawn a lot of attention for his off-field antics. Instead, there was a Drake soundtrack, former President George H.W. Bush in attendance, camouflage shorts, the unusual decision to work out in a helmet and pads, huddling up with teammates before plays and Nike selling Manziel's "pro day collection" online. It was a show.
Or someone could easily just shrug and note that the steak was as good as the sizzle. Manziel was very good in his pro day, showing off his arm strength and accuracy on the move. Whatever the reason for the helmet and pads, that's what he'll play in on Sundays and he did well in that ensemble. And who cares what shorts he wears if the results are that good?
Some will feel like the performance trumps all else, and that might be right. But Vikings coach Mike Zimmer didn't seem too impressed. According to the Houston Chronicle he felt like the workout was "choreographed" and put more emphasis on style than substance.
“The huddles and the different things and the music. The sideshow stuff,” Zimmer said. “It was a sideshow."
Zimmer made mention of how the decision to wear a helmet and shoulder pads was "different," and that didn't seem like a compliment.
Does it matter? Well, maybe not to me or you or coaches like Jacksonville's Gus Bradley or Tampa Bay's Lovie Smith, who praised the pro day workout in the same Chronicle story. But maybe it does matter if Manziel slips to the eighth pick and the quarterback-needy Vikings have a decision to make. Zimmer (and other coaches who wouldn't say it on the record) might subscribe to the old Bill Parcells credo, "don't be a celebrity quarterback," and pass on Johnny Football.
There's yet another layer, and it could be that Manziel doesn't want to play for a coach that would be turned off by a pro day spectacle. Manziel became a great college quarterback through his incredible instincts and feel for the game, and a coach who doesn't like the "sideshow" of his pro day might not be best for his career anyway.
The underlying message is clear, however. The NFL team that gets Manziel is in for a lot of extra attention. Manziel will be one of the most fascinating players of the 2014 NFL season and beyond. He's one of the most polarizing draft prospects in recent history. And he is a celebrity quarterback, like it or not. Maybe some teams like that he's well prepared for the attention and seems to embrace it, because being a NFL quarterback is never just about football. Being able to handle the sideshow might be a positive.
Manziel didn't do anything at pro day to change the perception that he's toning down his act, which was apparently a goal this offseason. You might not mind. I don't really care. But we're not making draft decisions. If some coaches like Zimmer and general managers are turned off by it, it'll be interesting to see if that affects where he gets picked.
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