Johnny Manziel vs. Tim Tebow

Sometimes a story is never really fully understood or unpacked until there is a bright contrast. In some cases a real felt tension is required to embrace the conflict between two extremes.

Johnny Manziel may represent the worst of the Millennial generation and has demonstrated his lack of character. Those of us who follow college and professional football knew who Tm Tebow was as a player and person before his short NFL career started. Many of us wanted Tim to succeed in the NFL because we liked the way he played and we loved the person that he was. Rarely in professional sports does a player’s character standout as much as it did for Tim Tebow.

Johnny Manziel was exciting in college. I can still clearly remember some of the plays he made at Texas A&M. He was worth watching almost every Saturday.

When he was drafted by the Cleveland Browns with the 22nd pick of the 2014 Draft, I like many fans, wanted him to succeed. It’s unfortunate, but telling that he landed in Cleveland. This is where his career may very well end. When he was young his fame went to his head and his alcoholism, arrogance and problems were covered up. That’s not the case anymore.

Tebow and Maziel each won the Heisman award. This is the highest award given to a collegiate football player. In some ways it has become a curse, not unlike the Madden cover curse. The player who gets the award rarely realizes their full potential at the professional level.

Johnny Manziel, NFL.com

Season Team Passing Rushing Fumbles
G GS Comp Att Pct Yds Avg TD Int Sck SckY Rate Att Yds Avg TD FUM Lost
2015 Cleveland Browns 9 6 129 223 57.8 1,500 6.7 7 5 19 141 79.4 37 230 6.2 0 6 3
2014 Cleveland Browns 5 2 18 35 51.4 175 5.0 0 2 3 26 42.0 9 29 3.2 1 1 0
TOTAL 147 258 57.0 1,675 6.5 7 7 22 167 74.4 46 259 5.6 1 7 3

Tim Tebow, wikipedia.com

Regular season

Season Team Games Passing Sacks Rushing Fumbles
GP GS Comp Att Pct Yds Y/Att TD INT Rating No. Yds Att Yds Avg TD FUM Lost
2010 DEN 9 3 41 82 50.0 654 8.0 5 3 82.1 6 26 43 227 5.3 6 1 0
2011 DEN 14 11 126 271 46.5 1,729 6.4 12 6 72.9 33 225 122 660 5.4 6 13 6
2012 NYJ 12 0 6 8 75.0 39 4.9 0 0 84.9 2 7 32 102 3.2 0 0 0
Total 34 14 173 361 47.9 2,422 6.7 17 9 75.3 41 258 197 989 5.0 12 14 6


Season Team Games Passing Sacks Rushing Fumbles
GP GS Comp Att Pct Yds Y/Att TD INT Rating No. Yds Att Yds Avg TD FUM Lost
2011–12 DEN 2 2 19 47 40.4 452 9.6 2 0 90.0 5 28 15 63 4.2 1 1 1

In terms of football skill it is important to break down the similarities and differences between these two players. Both liked to run and each had difficulties passing. Manziel struggled in the NFL because of his undersized stature. Tebow had an unconventional throwing motion that drew the ire and criticism of many commentators. Both played in college style offenses that capitalized on read options, run heavy series and spreading the ball around against defenses that were not fully equipped to handle the variety of sets and plays that an opponent can present.

Manziel was more of a passer than Tebow. Tebow was more of a champion and leader than Manziel.

In their personal conduct and character the differences are pronounced. Tebow is an outspoken, born-again Christian. Tebow is the son of international missionaries. He promotes chastity, scripture, prayer, humility and truth. Manziel is the spoiled rotten son of a successful oil executive. He takes advantage of his fame and fortune and sets a horrible example for our youth. Manziel’s drinking and partying only scratch the surface of his unethical, lazy and impetuous nature.

Both struggled to play up expectation. Tebow actually succeeded in leading his team to the play-offs and past the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2012. And, all he did was win.

But Tebow didn’t have the statistical or mechanical output that many GM’s and coaches want to see. They need a specific fit in their “pro-style” offense and Tim didn’t match their game plans. Manziel will be rejected because of his errant play and inconsistency. He had his excited moments, and I think that he’ll get a few more shots in the NFL but eventually he will washout because he does not have the dedication and intelligence to make it.

But the real difference between the way the Manziel and Tebow were perceived has less to do with how they lived and played. Tebow as a Christian was ridiculed and sabotaged by many people in the media and even at the teams where he played. I know this sounds counter intuitive, but it’s a psychological state of buyer’s remorse and personal shame. Manziel rubbed the coaches and ownership in Cleveland wrong. He didn’t honor his commitments.

They both represent lost opportunities. Manziel lost his opportunity to play and Cleveland suffered. We lost the opportunity to see Tebow play as a result of his opportunity being stolen. Both are tragic in their own ways.

*I apologize for the margins and frames, but there is no way to correct them that I know of.