Monthly Archives: November, 2013

Johnny Football vs. The NFL, the NCAA, and the World

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Few college football players in NCAA history have been as polarizing as Johnny Manziel, the star quarterback for Texas A&M University.  He plays the game with a chip on his shoulder, and loves to talk trash, taunt, and do everything else he can to aggravate opponents. But it’s his play that is giving his opponents headaches. The Southeastern Conference (SEC) is widely regarded as the nation’s top conference, with powerhouses like Alabama and LSU routinely in the top 10 year after year. He broke the SEC record for total yards in a season with over 5,100, as a freshman.  His immense popularity brings to mind a former SEC quarterback, Tim Tebow. But Manziel, aka Johnny Football, is much different than the devout Christian that Tebow was. Last season, Manziel became the first freshman to ever win the Heisman Trophy, awarded to the nation’s most outstanding college football player. What followed was a tumultuous offseason that is surely to concern NFL teams when Johnny declares for the draft.  Wherever he ends up, he’ll be the face of the franchise, and that might not be such a good thing.

The following is a timeline detailing Manziel’s antics following last season’s bowl game:

January 2013:

  • Following his Cotton Bowl win over Oklahoma, he visited the Winstar Casino in Oklahoma for some gambling.  While there, he and his teammates flashed wads of cash and he later tweeted, “Nothing illegal about being 18+ in a casino and winning money…KEEP HATING!”  What was illegal was him drinking bottles of champagne the same night (he had just turned 20).  And yes, that is Dom Perignon in his hand.
  • Later in the month, he sat courtside at a Rockets-Clippers game in L.A. By comparison, I was starting the second semester of my junior year.
  • He also made this video, which is actually pretty awesome.

February: 

  • Johnny was at the Super Bowl in New Orleans (field level, of course).  He also partied at Mardi Gras, posing for pictures with Ole Miss football players, Justin Timberlake and Jessica Biel.

March:

  • Spring practice began, and Johnny shoved a graduate assistant after throwing a pick during a scrimmage.
  • The next couple months were uneventful, Johnny threw out first pitches at Texas Rangers and San Diego Padres’ games, but nothing negative.

June: 

  • Manziel tweets “(Expletive) like tonight is a reason why I can’t wait to leave College Station…whenever it may be.” He followed that up by tweeting, “Don’t ever forget that I love A&M with all my heart, but please, please walk a day in my shoes.”  The tweets were soon deleted and he blamed them on a parking ticket he had received.

July: 

  • Left the famed Manning Passing Academy after missing early-morning meetings. Manziel apologized at SEC Media Days, saying: “I simply overslept. There’s nothing more to talk, and the rumors about the other things weren’t really true.”  The rumors he’s referring to?  That he was out the previous night drinking.  Here’s an article with some interesting quotes from Alabama quarterback  AJ McCarron, Johnny’s roommate at the camp.
  • Pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor stemming from a 2012 bar fight in College Station. Manziel admitted to failure to identify. Other charges against him, including disorderly conduct, were dismissed.
  • Was photographed attending parties at University of Texas fraternities, UT is A&M’s biggest in-state rival and until the recent conference realignment, they played one another every year in the Big 12 conference.  He was also videotaped leaving a frat party at UT with a soaking wet pink polo (presumably from beer being dumped on him) and was heckled as he did so.
  • An ESPN story with Manziel’s parents revealed that Manziel underwent alcohol counseling and therapy for anger issues.

August: 

  • The day before Texas A&M’s first practice, ESPN’s Outside The Lines reported that Manziel agreed to sign memorabilia in exchange for a “five-figure flat fee” during a visit to the site of the BCS National Championship.  He would miss the first half of the first game of the season.  Making money off your own name is prohibited by the NCAA (although they make billions off the athletes, but that’s another story).

Now let’s look at a couple other players who the NCAA has reprimanded in the past for violations that are arguably much less severe:

Dez Bryant was suspended 10 games for having a meal with former NFL player Deion Sanders and lying about it. 10 GAMES!  Now look at Manziel’s track record over about 8 or 9 months and recognize that he only missed one half of a game.

Georgia’s AJ Green was suspended 4 games for selling a jersey of his for $1,000 to an agent.

Let me be clear, since this probably seems slanted, I love everything about the guy.  He’s flashy and extremely cocky, but he backs it up on the field.  Plus, he gets to do all sorts of awesome stuff off the field, who wouldn’t want to live up your college years like he’s doing?  This year, he seems more focused than ever, due in part to his horrendous defense that forces him to outscore the opposition.  That makes Texas A&M must-see television each Saturday

The NFL is a business, and businesses don’t like character issues.  Johnny seems to have quite a few to straighten out before he gets there. It will be interesting to see how his draft stock rises or falls leading up to the draft, and if teams will shy away from him because of these past instances (see Tyrann Mathieu & Adam “Pac-Man” Jones).  Marketing the “Johnny Football” brand will not be much of an issue for whatever franchise he joins, he’s clearly fine with the spotlight.  The talent seems to be there too, but does he have the leadership qualities and maturity that are so vital to NFL success?  We’ll find out soon enough, but in the meantime, I’m just waiting to see what Johnny Football does next.

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Snapchat Was Offered 3 BILLION Dollars From Facebook, and Said No

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I remember when Draw Something first became popular a few years ago and everyone was going back and forth exchanging drawings with their friends.  After 7 weeks in existence, it sold for $180 million.  Draw Something is all but obsolete now.  The new craze is the app known as Snapchat.  You take a picture of yourself or something around you and send it to the friends of your choosing who have it too.  The image disappears after a set number of seconds, 10 being the max.  The concept seems simple enough, so why did Facebook offer 3 billion dollars for it?  And how could Snapchat turn them down?

Evan Spiegel, the 23-year-old founder of Snapchat, turned down Facebook’s offer because he believes his company may be worth even more.  Facebook bought Instagram for $1 billion, which most investors thought was crazy at the time.  Hindsight being 20/20, it’s clear that Instagram should have held out longer for more money.  Snapchat is growing even faster now than Instagram was back in the day.  Facebook initially offered $1 billion for Snapchat and was rejected, only to later make an all-cash offer of $3 billion.  

Snapchat still isn’t making any money from advertisers at the moment and it just seems odd that a company making zero dollars turns down three billion of them.  With constant technological innovation, Snapchat could easily become the next Draw Something if another, “cooler” app comes along.  

What do you think: Should Snapchat have taken the money while they had the chance or keep growing and negotiate for an even higher amount in the future?

How Jay-Z Changed the Future of the Brooklyn Nets

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“I’m not a businessman, I’m a business, man”

It’s been said that athletes want to be rappers and rapper want to be athletes.  Artists such as Nelly and Usher achieved success in the music industry and have invested in shares of professional sports teams.  However, no one has done it as well as hip-hop mogul and entrepreneur Shawn Carter, better known as Jay Z. 

Last season, the New Jersey Nets of the National Basketball Association (NBA) moved to Brooklyn.  After decades of poor attendance, the team needed a fresh start and wanted to completely revamp their brand image.  Russian billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov purchased the team in 2010 and set plans in motion to move from Newark, New Jersey to Brooklyn.  Prokhorov, 47, predicted that the team, which had lost nearly $300 million in the previous four years, would win a title and be worth $1 billion by 2015.  The first step was to that goal was to build a new arena.  The next step was getting Jay Z on board.

Jay Z grew up just blocks away from the site of the new $1.02 billion arena, the Barclays Center, so it made sense for a local celebrity to have a say in the rebranding of the team. Despite owning just one-fifteenth of one percent of the team, his impact is noticeable on all levels. He helped design the logo and chose the black and white color scheme. He counseled executives on what kind of music to play during games.  The arena contains a 40/40 Club, an iteration of his sports-bar-style nightclub. There will be a Rocawear store, selling his clothing line, on the arena’s exterior. Even the advertising agency used by the Nets, Translation, is half-owned by Jay. 11 “Vault” luxury suites were designed to his liking, costing those fans about $550,000 per year. Of course, his is free of charge.  He even went as far as advising security on how to screen fans for weapons without being too pushy.  

In September of 2012, Jay Z helped open the new arena with a week straight of concerts, selling out each one of them. Meanwhile, part-owners like the aforementioned Usher and Nelly have had no direct impact on their teams, other than the occasional court-side appearance. Other teams would be wise to look for other celebrities and artists to generate hype, like what the Toronto Raptors are doing with Drake

Mr. Carter has capitalized further on his Nets investment by extending the Jay Z brand into endorsement deals normally reserved for elite athletes. He starred in a Budweiser TV commercial that was broadcast during the Olympic Games, in which he fittingly wore a Nets hat and jersey.  

Earlier this year, Jay Z sold his small stake in the team to pursue his own sports agency, RocNation.  That agency already has a growing stable of athletes including Robinson Cano, Skylar Diggins, Kevin Durant, Geno Smith, and Victor Cruz.  

Forbes had the Nets valued at $357 million before the Brooklyn move, they are now reportedly worth around $750 million and that number is expected to increase.  Jay Z might be out as an owner, but his presence will be felt in Brooklyn and the entire NBA for years to come.