From one high-profile quarterback to another, Joe Namath had some advice for Johnny Manziel on Tuesday night. And if he had been playing today, “Broadway Joe” said, he would have had to take his own advice.
A former Alabama quarterback, Namath cultivated a young-man-about-town image while playing with the New York Jets during an NFL career that lasted from 1965 through 1977. On the NFL Network on Tuesday night, Namath was asked what would have happened to his Broadway Joe persona had Twitter, Instagram and camera phones been around in his heyday.
“I would have had to adjust,” Namath said. “I probably would have practiced what I was trying to tell Johnny.”
Namath had been asked what advice he would give Manziel, the Texas A&M Heisman Trophy winner known as “Johnny Football.” Manziel is preparing for his rookie NFL season with the Cleveland Browns.
“I would tell Johnny: Don’t read about yourself,” Namath answered. “Don’t watch things that have to do with you and the Cleveland Browns. Johnny, you know what you’re doing. You know what your team is doing. Trust in that. … I’d tell Johnny, just go ahead and live his life and make sure he does what’s right with his team and society, and he’ll be cool. Watching yourself on TV, that can be tough, or reading about yourself is a focus breaker.”
Manziel came under scrutiny again for a trip to Las Vegas during a weekend break during Browns’ OTAs – partying instead of studying his playbook. Namath was asked if Manziel’s off-the-field activities came in for unfair criticism.
“What difference does it make, really?” Namath answered.
Then he added: “I haven’t seen anyone perform any better than Johnny the last two seasons on that football field. I do know that we love entertainment. Football is a sport, but it is show biz. It is entertainment. And Johnny, he’s got to live his life, man. Give him some room. I’ve been to Vegas before. You guys have probably been to Vegas. Give the man a little bit of room. But you see in his position, it’s like he’s not entitled to be a regular guy at 22 years old or 21 years old when everything is blown out of whack.”
Manziel was taken with the 22nd pick in the 2014 NFL Draft and has his detractors despite the record-setting stats he put up in two college seasons. Namath is not among Manziel’s critics.
“I’d love him on my team, let me just say that,” Namath said.
In evaluating Manziel, Namath said: “What sticks out initially is his second, third, fourth effort. You know what I’m saying? The play’s never over with this guy. He doesn’t give up on a play. He has this innate feeling, sense when people are around him in a crowd how to move without even looking at them. He insists on trying to make the play work.”