Former Dallas Cowboys quarterback Troy Aikman said he was surprised his former team didn't take lightning-rod quarterback Johnny Manziel.
“I thought there was a real good chance if [Manziel] fell to the Cowboys’ pick that [Jerry Jones] would take him,” Aikman said at a United Way event at AT&T Stadium, via the Fort Worth Star-Telegram's Travis Brown.
If there's anyone who knows how Jones thinks it's Aikman, and the Fox announcer certainly saw his share of Jones' razzle and dazzle in the draft room back in the 1990s. But Aikman the analyst also sees the flip side of the coin, and he agrees with Jones' decision to pass on the talented but controversial Texas-bred Manziel.
“I understand why they didn’t," Aikman said. "It would have certainly added a lot of excitement around here, but I don’t think it would have been best for the club, certainly not in the short term. There’s a lot of other needs, as we saw last year, that this team has, so it was probably the right thing not taking him, but I was a little surprised. I think that had to have been a difficult decision for Jerry.”
But that's not to say that Aikman doesn't like what he sees with Manziel — if he puts the focus on football — with the Cleveland Browns.
“I think when the time comes for him to get serious about football and put in the time, I’m confident he’ll do that,” Aikman said. “He’s going to have to do that if he’s going to be successful. There’s no shortcuts in this league to becoming a great player. Cleveland has invested a lot in him and expects a lot from him, and I’m sure he recognizes that.”
Aikman understands pressure and white-hot exposure, playing for the Cowboys at the height of their powers and stardom. He was brilliant at managing the spotlight and believes that Manziel also can be successful if he finds a way to balance the fun times with the hard work.
“He likes to have a good time, I know that, but if he can stay focused on football and commit himself, which is what it’s going to require, I think he has a chance to be really good,” Aikman said.
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