Alex Farrer, Calhoun Times Sports Editor

Manziel a big kid in a man’s world

If you’ve seen any coverage of the NFL lately on any of the sports channels, you’ve seen your fair share of Johnny Manziel.

The former Heisman Trophy winner and Texas A&M quarterback has had the spotlight on for the last two years and it’s gotten even more ramped up since the Cleveland Browns took him in the first round of the NFL Draft in May. Almost every couple weeks during the summer months you would hear a story about Manziel partying in Las Vegas with celebrities and so on and so forth.

Now, since training camp started in late July, the Browns practice facilities have been a circus. They media has covered every move Manziel has made, what he’s done right or wrong in practice, what he’s said in interviews, how he’s performed in preseason games, etc.

It gets to be a little too much to take as a sports fan. Full disclosure, I haven’t been a Johnny Manziel fan since the offseason after his Heisman Trophy-winning season of 2012. The guy couldn’t seem to do anything right. You never heard good news about him, all you heard was bad stories.

That is what drove many NFL teams away from picking him in the Draft. But the Browns apparently thought the apparent talent and charisma he has was just too much to pass up. They thought the circus surrounding him would be worth his play on the field.

Whether all that is true is yet to be determined, but one thing is for sure, Manziel has a lot of growing up to do. Wherever you stand on his off-field exploits, saying he’s just a kid that likes to have fun or that he’s an immature person with too much money and free time on his hands, you have to agree that it’s hard to take him seriously when it comes to football.

Just this past Monday in the Browns’ preseason game against Washington, Manziel was seen on ESPN’s national Monday Night Football broadcast making an obscene gesture at the Redskins’ bench. Information that came out after the game said it was in reaction to the Washington players questioning his ability and if he was ready to play in the NFL.

That shows his maturity level right there. If he’s going to react like that every time an opposing player questions him or talks trash to him, it’s going to get old pretty quick.

What it all comes down to is if Johnny Manziel is ready to focus his attention entirely on what it takes to be successful in the NFL. If he puts away all the partying, distractions and his ego, I do believe he has the talent to be a playmaker in the NFL.

If he continues to gain attention for what he does off the field or how he acts on the field rather than letting his play do the talking, he won’t last very long in the NFL. There’s a lot of guys that had all the talent in the World, but they couldn’t get their head right.

That’s the situation Manziel faces now. It comes down to what his priorities are. Does he want to be famous or just have fun? Or does he want to be a good NFL quarterback?

Braves getting hot again

It’s as cliché as it gets, but the Atlanta Braves season has been a roller coaster ride, especially the offensive output.

Lately, after enduring a horrible stretch to end July and begin August, the Braves have gotten it going again as they’ve won five straight after Tuesday’s 11-3 win at Pittsburgh.

Justin Upton has gotten extremely hot again, with his 5-RBI performance on Tuesday getting him to 80 RBIs on the season. It seems that when he’s hot, the Braves are hot.

Jason Heyward has surged recently as well, Freddie Freeman has come out of his July slump and Evan Gattis looks like he’s finally feeling 100 percent after missing several weeks with a back injury.

The unfortunate part of this hot streak is that it has coincided with the Washington Nationals playing their best baseball of the season. The Nats have won eight in a row through Tuesday’s game so the Braves haven’t made up any ground in the NL East as they sit six games back.

But where the Braves have made a dent is in the Wild Card Standings. As of Wednesday afternoon, they were in a virtual tie with the San Francisco Giants for the second Wild Card spot.

While it’s not ideal to be in that one-game Wild Card Playoff as we all know after the infamous “Infield Fly Rule” game two year’s ago, after the slide the Braves were in after the All-Star Break, I think making the playoffs in any fashion would be a huge victory for the team.

But at the same time, the hot and cold nature of this team doesn’t instill confidence in me that they can do special things this year. I hope I’m wrong.