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Dear Colin Cowherd: Here’s how John Wall is different from Johnny Manziel

Not the same person. (Nick Wass/Associated Press; Jason Miller/Getty Images)

Did the latest news about NFL quarterback Johnny Manziel — that the Browns appear to be finished with him — make Colin Cowherd think about Wizards star John Wall? Yes, inasmuch as watching underwear-clad stars of 1980s sitcoms saute sliced turnips in a marinade of orange juice and sesame oil would make Colin Cowherd think about John Wall.

“When you look at quarterbacks in the NFL that turn into grease fires, it’s never a talent thing. It is a maturity thing,” Cowherd said this week. “How could any critic ever criticize me questioning maturity? It’s derailing careers. [Robert Griffin III], Colin Kaepernick, Johnny Manziel. It’s not a talent issue. They have good enough arms to play in the league. Kaepernick’s got an above-average arm. Maturity. Watch this Instagram account. Look at me, look at my shoes, look at my stuff. And I’m thinking, Russell Wilson’s going to children’s hospitals. … ”

Wait! That’s the wrong D.C. first-round pick! That paragraph was supposed to go in the item about how RGIII’s Instagram account ruined his NFL career! Sorry! Ah, here we are.

Johnny Manziel is not the only former Heisman Trophy winner who has had a lackluster NFL career. Here's a look at some of the NFL's most recent flameouts. (Video: The Washington Post)

“When I looked at Johnny Manziel: Money sign, in a bathroom in Vegas rolling up a dollar bill, all over Instagram,” Cowherd said. “You’re not mature enough. And so I said this all the time when I was critical about John Wall. What I said about John Wall is what I’ve said about Johnny Manziel: It’s not the talent. But I’m going to watch you, watch your background, look at your upbringing, look what you dealt with, and make some calls on it. Because to be a No. 1 pick in the NBA or a first-round pick in the NFL, you’re not going to bomb out because of talent. You’re going to bomb out or flame out because of maturity and judgment.”

What if Johnny Manziel’s next NFL stop is…nowhere?

This surely isn’t new; last summer, Cowherd argued that “Johnny Manziel, to me, is John Wall.” I don’t think he meant that literally, although if he did it might explain a few things.

“I look at Kaep, RGIII and Johnny Manziel,” Cowherd said this week. “What derailed all three of those talented young men’s lives: maturity, vanity, ego, immaturity. Why is everybody afraid to talk about that?”


“When you’re talking about point guards and you’re talking about quarterbacks, all this stuff gets derailed upstairs, above the neck,” Cowherd said. “It’s about the family, it’s about the lineage, it’s about the history, it’s about the DNA, it’s about what are you bringing to the table from the first 17, 18 years of your life. Like, what are you bringing to the table, because that’ll derail you. 

“I mean, if you talk about maturity, oh, it’s race. It has nothing to do with race. I mean, what’s the difference between Johnny Manziel and John Wall? I mean, [do they have] talent? Lots of it. Maturity? I don’t want my point guard in make-it-rain situations, kicked off flights. I don’t want that stuff. Johnny Manziel, I don’t want my quarterback doing this [gesture], money money money, signing autographs in college, putting his team in peril. I mean, it’s really funny: if people give you signs in life of their maturity level, just watch it. People tell you who they are. Just watch it. Just listen, just watch, and they’ll give you signs.”

Colin Cowherd has apparently never heard Colin Cowherd talk about John Wall

Okay. And so to the question “What’s the difference between Johnny Manziel and John Wall,” here are a few potential answers.

1) Wall has made two three all-star teams. Manziel has made zero.

2) Wall has led his team to the second round of the playoffs twice. Manziel’s Browns are 2-6 in games he has started.

3) Manziel was fined for putting up his middle finger during a preseason game against the Redskins. Wall, to my knowledge, has not yet been fined for any profane gestures during preseason games.

4) Manziel once skipped a walk-through and also needed team security personnel to wake him up. To my knowledge, this has not yet happened with Wall.

5) Manziel spent more than two months in a rehab facility. To my knowledge, this has not yet happened with Wall.

6) The NFL investigated Manziel after a heated roadside argument with his girlfriend. To my knowledge, Wall has not been investigated for heated roadside arguments.

7) A helicopter was called to find Manziel after a phone call following another domestic dispute, prompting another NFL investigation. To my knowledge, no helicopters have been used to track down Wall.

8) Manziel has reportedly often been late to meetings. I am not aware of similar complaints about Wall.

9) Wall was recently named the Eastern Conference’s Player of the Month. Manziel has never kept a starting job for a month.

10) Manziel’s team seems about ready to cut ties with its former first-round pick. Wall’s team gave him a max-level contract extension.

To be fair to Cowherd, there are some ways they are similar. I can think of at least two off the top of my head.

1) They are both named John and/or Johnny.

2) They have both been seen dancing in public at least once.

Later in Cowherd’s show, co-host Kristine Leahy argued that “John Wall’s matured, a little bit, over the years.”

“Eh, a little bit,” Cowherd said.

“I think so,” Leahy said.

“Fine,” Cowherd said. “He’s a tremendous player. But I mean, when I look at Steph Curry, I’m like ‘He’s got it all.’ ”

And so, because John Wall is not as good as the league MVP, he is thus a fair comparison with Johnny Manziel.

Editor’s note: I know we should stop doing this stuff, and I think I’ve actually promised to stop doing this stuff in the past, but my new biggest fear — passing even my fear of being the worst sports columnist of all-time — is that since none of you weirdos clicks on our coverage of the Caps and Wizards and Hoyas and stuff like that, local sports coverage will gradually go away and eventually I’ll be forced to either make lists of the greatest Super Bowl moments in league history or find a real job in which I’m not allowed to use stupid sports-radio transcripts as an excuse to post depressing quotes from Russian literature about impending death. Unless, of course, I can find a way to wring a few more page views out of our coverage of the Caps and Wizards and Hoyas, even if I need to lean upon the contributions of soulless radio emotion-floggers, who, really, are following the exact same impulses as I am because they, too, are scared.

Speaking of: Here’s a quote from “First Love,” by Turgenev.

O youth! youth! You go your way heedless, uncaring — as if you owned all the treasures of the world; even grief elates you, even sorrow sits well upon your brow. You are self-confident and insolent and you say, ‘I alone am alive — behold!’ even while your own days fly past and vanish without trace and without number, and everything within you melts away like wax in the sun…like snow…and perhaps the whole secret of your enchantment lies not, indeed, in your power to do whatever you may will, but in your power to think that there is nothing you will not do; it is this that you scatter to the winds — gifts which you could never have used to any other purpose. Each of us feels most deeply convinced that he has been too prodigal of his gifts — that he has a right to cry, ‘Oh, what could I not have done, if only I had not wasted my time.’ And here am I…what did I hope — what did I expect? What rich promise did the future seem to hold out to me, when with scarcely a sigh — only a bleak sense of utter desolation — I took my leave from the brief phantom, risen for a fleeting instant, of my first love? What has come of it all — of all that I had hoped for? And now when the shades of evening are beginning to close in upon my life, what have I left that is fresher, dearer to me than the memories of that brief storm that came and went so swiftly one morning in the spring?

Man, that’ll keep you staring toward the ceiling at night, huh? “Oh, what could I not have done, if only I had not wasted my time,” he typed, while transcribing a Colin Cowherd quote about John Wall so silly and forgettable that the point, if there even was one, has already been forgotten.

Anyhow, have a nice day.