As the story goes, Jim McMahon was getting heckled by Utah fans during the 1980 BYU-Utah game. McMahon was on the way to a 56-6 win. When Ute fans started up after a BYU score, McMahon pointed at the scoreboard.
McMahon was feisty and competitive and fiery. It served him well.
Now comes Johnny Manziel and he’s, well, feisty, competitive and fiery, too. Last weekend the Texas A&M quarterback summoned the spirit of McMahon by pointing at the scoreboard following a verbal exchange with a Rice player. He also appeared to mimic signing an autograph.
That’s obnoxious, but can you chalk it up to competitive exuberance?
Fact is, if you’re a Texas A&M fan, you love that guy. Everyone else is hating on Manziel, the Heisman winner.
It’s true Manziel would get a lot more national love if he dialed it down. The autograph signing investigation that got him suspended for half a game didn’t help his image. Nor did his controversial tweets during the offseason.
Still, I’m going to give him a little space. Remember, he’s just a sophomore. The benching his coach gave him, plus the penalty, should help him mature. Rice player Nick Elder tweeted that Manziel was congratulating him on a good hit when they had their back-and-forth exchange.
At the same time, McMahon never did tone down his act after leaving BYU. Or doesn’t anyone recall him mooning a helicopter at the Super Bowl?
Manziel could go either way.
He could grow up. Or maybe for players like he and McMahon, they never really need to.