Norman Chad’s teams of destiny: Johnny Manziel’s Browns, Greg Zuerlein’s Rams


St. Louis Rams place kicker Greg Zuerlein watches his 26-yard field goal against the Cleveland Browns in the fourth quarter of a preseason game on Aug. 23. (Tony Dejak/Associated Press)
August 31

Usually, I pick my NFL Teams of Destiny after hundreds of hours poring over game film, scouting reports and sabermetrical data, plus a quick call to Ron Jaworski.

(To be honest, there’s no such thing as a “quick call” to the ESPN analyst — Jaws could do a 75-minute, one-man show off-Broadway in which all he discusses is Aaron Rodgers’s footwork.)

But this season I’m breaking the mold and picking like a fan: Johnny Manziel and Greg Zuerlein.

Yes, the Cleveland Browns, who haven’t won a playoff game in 20 years or an NFL title in 50 years, will meet the St. Louis Rams, who haven’t made the playoffs since 2004 and have exactly one NFL title since 1951, in Super Bowl 49.

I love watching Johnny Manziel.

As Rick says in “Casablanca,” “It seems that destiny has taken a hand.” And unlike the 19 teams that passed him over, I don’t want to be staring in a mirror months from now, asking myself, “How could I not take Johnny Football to lead my Team of Destiny?”

(Brian Hoyer? Please. Nice guy. And he’ll be the Browns’ starting quarterback for anywhere between one quarter of a game and one quarter of a season.)

As I took in a Texas A&M game on TV last season, I pointed to No. 2 on the screen and told my Gannon University-bound-on-basketball-scholarship stepson Isaiah Eisendorf, “That man is transformative.”

I don’t even known what transformative is, but Manziel feels like it.

He’s not Johnny Foosball or Johnny Actuary or Johnny Forensic Scientist. He’s Johnny Football.

I might get my first tattoos — “Johnny” on my left earlobe, “Football” on my right earlobe.

If Manziel doesn’t work out, Jimmy Haslam will just make him work off his contract as a night manager at Pilot Flying J.

Of course, among the many obstacles Manziel needs to overcome is himself.

As I write this, he is climbing the pole at a gentlemen’s club in Cuyahoga Falls, shouting out like Tarzan with a mojito in his left hand.

(Yes, he likes to have a good time; so did Don Johnson when he starred on “Miami Vice,” and you didn’t see NBC replace him with Donny Osmond.)

So, sure, maybe Manziel’s more Otto Preminger than Otto Graham.

(Note to any readers under the age of 75: Preminger was an Oscar-nominated film director with an eye for the ladies, including a relationship with burlesque legend Gypsy Rose Lee; Graham was a Hall of Fame quarterback who led the Browns to 10 straight title games from 1946 to 1955.)

Still, I believe in Manziel. He could make a play trapped inside of a freight elevator. I am proud to be sewn to Johnny Football’s mobile hip; we’ll scramble down the red carpet together or we’ll be run out on a rail.

Besides, the city of Cleveland is on a roll: Manziel has come to the Browns, LeBron’s coming back to the Cavaliers, the Republicans are coming in 2016. Heck, if Ikea comes to town, Couch Slouch could be on the next Greyhound to Akron.

Yes, the Mistake on the Lake is about to become Galore on the Shore.

As for the Rams, I know they are in the NFL’s toughest division and the Seahawks, 49ers and Cardinals all are better than them. Big deal. Things change and stuff happens.

I know they lost their franchise quarterback, Sam Bradford, to a season-ending anterior cruciate ligament injury. But stepping in is reliably underrated Shaun Hill. Being that he attended the University of Maryland in 2000 and 2001, Hill undoubtedly spent more time on the football field than in the classroom, and now that added gridiron education is gonna pay off!!!

Plus the Rams have the otherworldly Zuerlein, the Kurt Warner of kickers. His leg is so powerful, he could kick a field goal from Soldier Field that would be good at Lambeau Field. All Hill needs to do is drive the Rams to midfield or so three times a half.

I believe Greg the Leg will make a 70-yarder to win the NFC championship game.

And then I will openly cheer for Michael Sam to be back on the Rams’ active roster as he attempts to become the NFL’s first openly gay defensive end who is a distraction to Tony Dungy to win the Super Bowl.

Ask The Slouch

Q. You erred when you included Branch Rickey in your “Mount Rushmore of sports owners.” He wasn’t an owner; he was a team president. (Brian Sikes; Indianapolis)

A. As I’ve often said, a public school education can take you only so far; besides, back then, tuition at the University of Maryland was just $440 a semester, so nobody in my family expected the next Isaac Newton to emerge.

Q. How about the Mount Rushmore of subway systems? (Erin Abbott; Spokane, Wash.)

A. Paris Metro, London Underground, New York City subway, Hong Kong MTR. Meanwhile, my home town of Washington, D.C., has a very clean subway system that shuts down late at night and breaks down at all hours — sort of like the federal government.

Q. Do you have plans for a Mount Rushmore of ex-wives? (Bob Groves; Romney, W.Va.)

A. That was erected in 2003 outside of D.C. Superior Court.

You, too, can enter the $1.25 Ask The Slouch Cash Giveaway. Just e-mail asktheslouch@aol.com, and if your question is used, you win $1.25 in cash!

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