, Port Arthur, Texas

May 11, 2014

West column: Texans foolish to not trade up for Manziel

The Port Arthur News

PORT ARTHUR — Passing on Johnny Manziel will prove to be the dumbest thing the Houston Texans have ever done and, yes, that's saying a lot. No problem at all here with taking Jadevon Clowney No. 1, although a shrewd GM could probably have mined the top pick for multiple draft choices and still landed a very talented player. The problem is that Houston didn't do exactly what Cleveland did and trade up to get Manziel at No. 22. All it cost the Browns was a third-round pick. The Texans had a higher No. 3 than the Browns, but either weren't smart enough to use it or felt that Manziel wasn't worth the price. This, remember, is a team that does not have a legitimate NFL QB on its roster. Snubbing Manziel not only cost the Texans a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to cut into the Cowboys fan base in Texas, and to give the Texans a national spotlight they've never had, but more importantly deprived them of a player with the rare "it" factor, extraordinary leadership qualities and a fierce winner mentality. Watching the draft unfold, and the Texans fail to make the necessary trade to get Manziel, convinced me that GM Rick Smith is a lightweight who kept his job when Gary Kubiak got fired primarily because he's tight with owner Bob McNair and his son Cal. It also reinforced the fact that new coach Bill O'Brien never wanted Manziel, despite some of the positive things he said in the past couple of weeks. That's forgivable only if he winds up with a QB who makes more NFL impact that Manziel. It says here that won't happen, that the Texans will continue to be a non-factor in the NFL's big picture and that they will always be an afterthought to the Cowboys, no matter how many times Dallas goes 8-8.

Speaking of the Cowboys, I'd have lost the ranch if somebody had bet me Jerry Jones would pass on Manziel. Somebody must have a taped telephone call that would prove uncomfortable for Jethro to leverage him into going against his P.T. Barnum instincts. It was typical of Jones, though, that he passed on his team's desperate need for defensive help to take Notre Dame offensive tackle Zack Martin. Bottom line on that is Jones feeling compelled to get somebody who can help watch Tony Romo's back. That's two years in a row Jethro's first-round pick has been made to protect an aging QB he overpaid . . . Say what you want about Manziel, there has never been a player who has driven interest in the NFL draft, and built TV ratings for the draft, like he did. Every pre-draft show was all Manziel all the time. ESPN's live draft show, following an interview with Alabama's Nick Saban, talking about how difficult Manziel is to defend, kept coming back to the A&M QB after other teams made their picks. The result was an all-time high overnight rating of 6.8 which was up a whopping 49 percent from last year . . . Here's a prediction that's the safest one I've ever made. The No. 1 selling NFL jersey next year will be Manziel's Cleveland Browns No. 2. It will be shocking if the Browns don't set an all-time record for sales. As hot as LeBron James' jersey was when he played for the NBA Cavaliers, those numbers will get blown away by Manziel purchases . . .   

  Draft talk has given the Houston Rockets a pass of sorts when it comes to discussion of the way they lost to Portland. When some of the focus returns to the Rockets, the hot topic will be what player they are going to add to the starting mix. The scariest name out there is notorious ball hog Carmelo Anthony of the New York Knicks. Anthony is a free agent and looking to hook on with a team that can give him an opportunity to win a ring. If you like the Rockets, pray they don't add this guy because he's the antithesis of a team player. There wouldn't be enough shots to go around between Anthony, James Harden and Dwight Howard. The move that could put the Rockets over the top, and it's a long shot, would be to make a deal for Kevin Love of the Timberwolves . . . Regular readers of this column know the disdain held here for the NCAA and its exploitation of college football and basketball players at the top level. It shouldn't be hard then to figure out how much how I agree with the assessment of NFL Hall of Famer Jim Brown. "The NCAA is probably the most reprehensible organization God ever created," Brown said last week in Cleveland. "Total exploitation. The kind of money they make, the life they live, it's embarrassing. I'm totally for change and total change. I wanted to make this as harsh as I could because I want them to come at me in any way they want to."  . . . This column is being written from Washington D.C., where I'm bonding with 2-year-old grandson Hudson. While he was napping, I read an interesting draft note in The Washington Post. When the St. Louis Rams took Auburn offensive tackle Greg Robinson with the No. 2 pick in round one, it was the final piece of the ransom the Redskins paid the Rams to move up and draft Robert Griffin III two years ago. Robinson was the eighth player the Rams added because of all the draft choices the Redskins paid. That sounds like a Jimmy Johnson deal/steal.

What Chris Stroud did Friday to make the cut in the Players Championship surely ranks in the top three rounds during his time on the PGA Tour. To follow an opening 76 with a five-under 67, and make the cut by one stroke, was great stuff. What was really impressive was the way Chris rebounded after hitting his tee shot in the water on the par 3, 17th, which was his eighth hole of the day. It looked like a sure-fire momentum killer, after he'd played the first seven holes in three under. Instead, he got up-and-down from 94 yards for bogey, then played three under the rest of the way to match the second low score of the day. His most amazing stat was 15 one-putt greens and 21 putts overall . . . In case you missed it, University of Texas athletic director Steve Patterson reiterated recently that the Longhorns won't be playing Texas A&M anytime soon, "unless there really is a compelling business or branding reason." So there you have the essence of big time college football being all about business in 10 words or less. Never mind what the players want. Never mind what the ticket-buying fans want. Never mind what's a great game for thestate of Texas. Unless there is a compelling business or branding reason, it ain't gonna happen . . . Here's what should not be happening in college football -- more meaningless bowl games to reward medicore seasons and pad a coach's resume. But the bowl express remains as out of control as a runaway freight. Four more bowl games have been added to follow the 2014 season, swelling the total to an ever-more-ridiculous 39. That means 78 teams have to win at least six games. If they don't, the NCAA once again has to take the embarrassing step of granting waivers to teams who are 5-7. These guys are worse than the UIL allowing four teams into the playoffs in five and six-team districts.

Sports editor Bob West can be e-mailed at