Not everyone can be Texans’ rookie Jadeveon Clowney, stomping around field making running backs into rag dolls.
The 21-year-old has handled stardom with the grace of a wizened veteran. He’s a rookie beyond his years. Other rookies are not blessed with such a natural maturity. We’re reminded everyday that rookies are just 20-somethings.
So here are nine moments since the 2014 NFL Draft where the rookies prove they’re just kids.
Johnny Manziel flicks off the Washington Redskins
Many feared Manziel would be the man-child that never grows up. Football’s Peter Pan. And just when he was so close to ending his streak as the Internet’s best headline, he flashed his middle finger to the Washington Redskins sideline in the waning moments of Monday Night Football.
Manziel’s on the Browns – he’s going to lose a lot. He needs to learn how to deal with that gracefully. He was soft spoken and modest when addressing the quarterback competition (which he is losing). This is probably just case of the Cam Newtons. He’s been so used to winning that he doesn’t know how to lose.
Lane Johnson tweets pic of absurd dinner bill
Every rookie has to foot the bill. Blake Bortles will probably foot the bill as first-quarterback-taken-in-the-2014-draft, but Eagles lineman simply had to pick up a 17,746 tab. Then, unfortunately, he tweeted about it. It’s not like the tab hit Dez Bryant-esk totals of $55,000. Unless he was intentionally trying to make a statement, moments like those need to stay within the team. He tweeted later: “For those of you so concerned with MY business, I am grateful to be able to treat my O-line to such a great evening VOLUNTARILY!”
But Lane, you know when you put something on twitter, 7 billion people have access to it, right? If it was your business, then why’d you put it up there? Live and learn.
Johnny Manziel pulls a Billy Madison
Johnny, Johnny, Johnny. This one is both awful and wonderful. He was caught drinking champagne out of the bottle on a swan – which was vintage Billy Madison. If only he could get away with stuff like this without getting caught. Alas, he will never be safe from social media. He seems to be learning that. He’s just getting caught doing the aforementioned silly act on national broadcasts like ESPN.
Jace Amaro struggled a great deal with the playbooks
Texas Tech ran a lightning fast offense, yet former Texas Tech standout Jace Amaro
has struggled to get to speed with the Jets. At one point his teammates, said he “can’t catch a cold.” Then after he finally redeemed himself with a half-decent preseason performance where he racked up two catches (and his coach complemented him), he went ahead and messed that up by directly ignoring his coaches simple and valuable suggestion: study Ditka. What would these guys say?
Coye Francies can’t handle a joke
Everyone hates a locker room prank – but pranks don’t warrant punches. Browns rookie Coye Francies got dunked with a bucket of water. It was probably shocking. It probably took his breath away. But it doesn’t warrant a temper tantrum. Apparently, the rookie cornerback threw a bucket of ice and at least one punch. When coach Eric Mangini addressed the issue after Fracies had time to relax, the rookie admitted he should have handled it differently.
He made it through the first two steps of getting through a rookie year in the NFL. Step 1: Get pranked. Step 2: Get over it. I’m not saying its right or wrong, but it the undeniable order of things.
Most rookie quarterbacks struggle at some point
Nearly all of the high profile quarterbacks have experienced success. Bortles is crushing preseason like a kid who repeated kindergarten. Manziel is giving Brian Hoyer a run for his money. Teddy Bridgewater has a fourth-quarter comeback under his belt. Even Derek Carr, who has been tucked under Matt Shaub’s wing, has had quiet success.
But there were rough moments for all these guys. Rookies are bound to have a bad day – that gets amplified when they are under media scrutiny. Bridgewater threw three picks in one day. Manziel admitted he’s struggling to adjust to his new pro playbook. Carr dwells upon his mistakes. There was a point where Blake Bortles was only completing short passes at minicamp. Baby steps lead to giant leaps.
Ra’Shede Hageman punched veteran Joe Hawley in the mouth
Karma’s a bitch, isn’t it? Hageman suffered a scare after he fought with his veteran teammate. Initially, there were reports that Hageman broke his wrist, but those reports proved false. Hopefully, Hageman learned a valuable lesson: Don’t fight with centers.
An aside, with all of these punching matches and scuffles arising in training camp, I must ask, football players know that they and everyone around them is wearing a helmet, right? Those are things are made to keep guys like Patrick Willis from giving out concussions like candy. What’s a fist going to do?
Rookies take their Madden ratings seriously
I’m willing to bet that nearly all of this year’s rookie class has created a player in Madden with their name and attributes. At some point, that player’s rating was a 99. So it’s no doubt surreal – and heartbreaking – to see that the game designers have finally made their spitting image appear on screen as a sub-80s player (only four players had ratings above 80). The rookies were unanimously dissatisfied – except Blake Bortles, who likes his odds as a punter.
Rookie coaches make mistakes, too
They may not be kids, but they are certainly rookies and they lack experience just like the 20-something youngsters they are coaching. For example, Bill O’Brien has Ryan Fitzpatrick, Case Keenum and Tom Savage as his only quarterbacks. I may be missing something, but that seems like a mistake.
Mike Pettine, however, made the gravest error of all rookie coaches. He accused Patriots of stealing Jets’ playbook. Even if it’s true, the statement drew a great deal more press to a football team that was already inundated with Johnny #ManzielProblems. He’d be wise to stick to on-field problems. He’s got plenty to work on there.