Browns NFL Draft Thought: ‘Sizzle’ is meaningless
By Peter Smith
Dec 31, 2013; Atlanta, GA, USA; Texas A&M Aggies quarterback Johnny Manziel (2) celebrates defeating the Duke Blue Devils during the 2013 Chick-fil-A Bowl at the Georgia Dome. Texas A&M won 52-48. Mandatory Credit: Paul Abell-USA TODAY Sports
‘Sizzle’ is a word moron to use to describe why a team should make a pick in sports when they cannot come up with a good argument. This is a term that has been thrown around quite a bit with Johnny Manziel being a potential pick for the Jacksonville Jaguars, Cleveland Browns, and Oakland Raiders. There are good arguments for and against why a team and specifically this team should draft Manziel; ‘sizzle’ is not one of them.
The argument tends to go along these lines. Drafting Manziel would instantly make a team relevant. It would make fans watch a random game on Thursday Night Game. Fans will show up to the games to watch this guy play, win or lose. Even if he is awful, it will be exciting. Or, now bear with me here, the Browns could draft the best player and win games, getting people to show up and pay attention because the team is good. Amazingly, there is an exciting correlation between teams that are successful and their draw as far as fans goes. When a team is good, people pay attention to them. It is the NFL. This is not some underground operation fighting for the attention of sports fans. Even when the Browns are awful, they are still the biggest team in town with people talking about them every single day of the year.
Yes, the Browns could draft Manziel and he could be really exciting while being a train wreck. This is not to guarantee that Manziel would be bad if they picked him, but if he was, somehow that would not matter because he is so much fun. That fun would last several weeks and maybe a season before fans got tired of it and wanted to move on from it.
A good example of this is Kyrie Irving with the Cleveland Cavaliers. Irving is legitimately a good player in the NBA and the best player on the team. Nevertheless, when Irving is injured and the team plays well without him, there are a contingent of people who are ready to trade him. That is how short the attention span is in sports for plenty of fans.
If Manziel was to get injured or struggle and Brian Hoyer were to come in and succeed, people would jump off of the Manziel bandwagon in droves. It is an incredibly shortsighted view of sports from an energy level or business standpoint.
The Browns could inject plenty of ‘sizzle’ into the organization if they signed Tim Tebow fresh off of the set at ESPN’s SEC Network and there are people who will still argue to their dying breath that Tebow can play and would take this team to the playoffs. For some strange reason, Tebow is not on an NFL team, because teams do not think that way. They want to win.
The New York Jets are the best example of this concept gone bad. With Rex Ryan as their head coach, they craved all the media spotlight they could get. They made themselves incredibly available to the public and brought Tebow to won among other moves to make themselves the center of attention. The Jets succeeded in being the center of attention for a while. The entire NFL universe descended upon them to watch and report on everything. Tebow never played, Mark Sanchez was a dumpster fire and all of the attention the Jets were getting was negative. They became a joke rather than a great story. That ‘sizzle’ was the sound of the place burning down around them.
The Dallas Cowboys are always in the news. No matter what they do, they get coverage. Tony Romo, Jerry Jones, their head coach Jason Garrett, whatever. If it is Cowboys, everyone is hearing about it. Except, they are not good either and it is almost always about why they are not good enough, whether Romo can do enough to win and when Jerry Jones is going to stop being a terrible general manager.
Meanwhile, the most boring franchises on the planet tend to be the New England Patriots, Green Bay Packers, and Pittsburgh Steelers. Those teams are almost never in the news and they have personnel that actively kill stories and make themselves anonymous. They are also three of the most successful franchises in the NFL over the past few decades.
When teams win, people pay attention to them. The Browns could go out and sign Jared Lorenzen, the Abominable Throw Man from whatever small league he is playing in currently. Video of the the rotund passer made the rounds on various news networks and watching him waddle around with an impressive amount of agility to throw a touchdown is entertaining and fun to be sure. The problem is he will not win any games, so it only goes so far.
And this is absolutely not limited to random fans. There are plenty of people in the media who have this same terrible logic. I love Dan Patrick, but his argument for why a team should draft Manziel is horrendous and no one who makes these kinds of decisions thinks that way. As someone trying to produce entertainment like he does, it makes sense. For a team that is trying to win games, it is the stuff of a carnival barker. And in reality, no different than deciding to put an old timey ‘freak show’ to capitalize on a spectacle.
‘Sizzle’ does not win football games. Good players do. And if the Browns believe Manziel is their guy, they will and should take him because he is a good player. However, nothing about should include the buzz he brings when it comes to interest level. It has to be about what he can do that helps the team win football games. The rest of this stuff, it can be an added bonus and if he can be entertaining while helping the team to get a championship, great. He cannot be a train wreck that simply has everyone around the country rubbernecking as they go by, looking at the carnage, but grateful it is not them. Browns fans have been in that wreck since 1999. Has that been fun?
On a question about Manziel and his marketability, Jacksonville Jaguars general manager David Caldwell put it best: “My job isn’t to sell tickets.” Neither is Ray Farmer’s. Both of their jobs are to put their respective teams in the best position to win, however boring that may or may not be to some people.