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Brace Yourself...

by Robb Reel

The worst kept secret in all of sports became official today.

Johnny Manziel filed his paperwork to enter the NFL Draft.

In other news, the sky is blue and water is wet.

No one could honestly be shocked that the first-ever [redshirt] freshman to win the Heisman Trophy would declare his intention to go pro as soon as humanly possible.  NFL rules dictate that a player's high-school class must be three years past graduation before he can be eligible.  "Johnny Football" sat for a year at Texas A&M, played a year and won the Heisman, then was obligated to play another year.

I will note that this time last year, Manziel was not exhibiting the necessary maturity to take this step, were it available to him.  He was reportedly drinking, carousing and getting dismissed from quarterback camps.  The NFL mandate is ostensibly about physical maturity -- that players' bodies need to "ripen" before facing the elite competition -- but, at least in his case, the issue was mental/emotional maturity.  I am not knocking Manziel so much because we all made some dumb choices in those years of our lives; I am certainly no exception.  So very few of us faced the kind of public scrutiny as he has and will continue to face.

He appears to have grown a great deal in the past year, one that was not as successful as last, though not an embarrassment by any means.  He seems to handle the klieg light of fame with so much more grace and poise.  In short, he has grown up.  I think the NFL rule, in large part, has helped prevent him from becoming another JaMarcus Russell, Akili Smith or Ryan Leaf.  Only time will tell on that, but I think Manziel is far better equipped than he was in January 2013.

Not that THAT should be a surprise either.

Next thing you know, someone will tell me that Rosebud was a sled.