Oh no he didn’t. If that’s what you were thinking when you read NBC Sports blogger Michael David Smith’s PFT report on Sept. 5, 2014, that “Manziel has filed for a trademark to the term “Johnny Cleveland,” a story that reference ESPN as first catching the story. In less than two hours on a Friday before the fightin’ Texas Aggies home opener against Lamar University in Beaumont, the Aggie former student has made the news at “the old place.”
This new trademark will surely be controversial; some will embrace the bravado as brilliant and forward thinking, visualizing success the way only Zig Ziglar could. Zig might have a problem, though, because the rookie NFL quarterback has not played in an NFL season game yet. Already there’s 179 comments on Smith’s story and the media has much to say on the subject, some of it not so positive. Let’s first be fair to young Manziel and his capital losses from playing nonprofessional college ball for two years at Texas A&M. That cost him one heaping helping of big bucks, bigtime.
It’s acceptable to bemoan the fact that Texas A&M made millions of dollars from the name, image, and Heisman Trophy winning arm of the young man from Kerrville Tivy High School, originally from Tyler, Texas. Of all the t-shirts bearing his number (2) sold in the past 700 or so days since he lit up Kyle Field with electric play, Manziel netted zero dollars.
A few factors to consider. Texas A&M has moved on. The attention of all Aggies around the world is on the future of Texas A&M, with the largest scoreboard in any college, ever, in College Station, Texas even the “big ol’ jet airliners” called up the FAA and asked Texas A&M to tone down the bright lights. Stars are shining everywhere for the 9th-ranked Texas Aggies, a position they jumped to on the strength of Kenny Hill’s arm, Jake Spavital’s offense, and Kevin Sumlin’s sheer genius in letting the team performance “talk” for the school.
A very young, embattled defensive unit shone like the bright jumbotron and already, the Aggies are dusting off their “Wrecking Crew” memorabilia, they’re so happy about the Big-D. Kenny Hill rewrote the record books and knocked the named of Johnny Manziel, Jerrod Johnson and Ryan Tannehill down a peg (don’t worry, they have more left over) in one game. That would be “one game” that Kenny Hill played.
Last week post victory, Manziel tweeted, “Kenny Football!!! #GigEm” and it was favorite by 18,169, but a most humble, respectful, and generous quarterback shared how excited he was by the team play. Hill also mentioned, quietly, to reporters that he didn’t care for the name “Kenny Football” and the media noted that as well, and agreed. Kenny Hill is his own man, and his own name doesn’t need a brand, because he’s a fightin’ Texas Aggie and that’s been “enough” for Aggie quarterbacks for decades, several of whom have found good homes in the NFL. Just call him Mr. Hill, and call him a Texas Aggie. That will do nicely for now.
So, when Manziel’s company “JMan2 Enterprises LLC” filed for the trademark “Johnny Cleveland,” he just added one more application to the trademark brands he now holds on “JFF” (with the middle initial of that name being the same symbol he shared with the Washington Redskins a few weeks ago, a $12,000 memory away), “Johnny Football,” “ManzIIiel” and “The House That Johnny Built.” He also had six Houston billboards with his name, number and image plastered up and down the freeways for six months prior to the draft in hopes the Houston Texans would snap him up. He could have been “Johnny Houston,” but then, he is in fact not that.
The move to trademark the name “Johnny Cleveland” is presumably premature but even more because the Mars Inc. brand Snickers candy bar has already scotched their first ad spot with Johnny and released a revised “Johnny JamBoogie” spot, which has 912,823 views and has likely drawn more commentary from the media than any of Manziel’s pre-season game stats. To be fair, it’s less buzzworthy than the “Let it Go” video of Texas native Brian Hull, who has 15,280,040 views and doesn’t boogie in the video but he does 22 character voices that will blow you away. But, back to football.
You have to hand it to whomever is advising young Manziel to get in there and get every dollar he can before something happens to his career. Commercials for McDonald’s (he just ‘moved’ and struck the “Heisman pose,” so he didn’t get a SAG card for that, but the Johnny JamBoogie spot likely got him the card last week), then the Nissan “Heisman House” spot with RGIII, and the MusclePharm endorsement, teaming up with the Arnold Schwarzenegger family brand, and then your basic Nike “Just Do It” folks, that’s a full business day.
This whole “Johnny Cleveland” concept leaves a bad taste in your mouth because of three primary reasons that override the logic of claiming the title to a city that loves its football. Those reasons include: Brian Hoyer, and wait for it, wait for it, experienced NFL quarterback Rex Grossman, plus Connor Shaw, still on the practice team. No wonder there are so many, excuse this, snickers, about the deal. The more things change, the more they stay the same. Soon enough young Manziel will play in his first regular season NFL game and he has his bookbag packed with all his trademarks, just in case he needs them.
Meanwhile, back in College Station, did you hear about sophomore Kenny Hill and his numbers last week? What’s next?