Jonathan Paul Manziel is only 6.0 feet tall, a tad on the diminutive side for a quarterback, and, from the looks of his performance so far, he may have an equally stunt NFL career. A bold, blatant, brazen statement, perhaps? Maybe not. Pre-Season Football is like going to the dentist; we all know it’s necessary, but none of us want to go. So do you put any weight or stock, credence or confidence in the play of players during a preseason game?
Jonathan “Johnny Football” Manziel won the Heisman Trophy in 2012 as a freshman at Texas A&M and by all accounts, he was the next Joe Namath, Terry Bradshaw, Joe Montana and Tom Brady combined. And he was only a FRESHMAN! According to most, the media made Manziel more than he maybe was meant to be. The media gave Manziel the moniker “Johnny Football” and this title stuck, and it has him stuck trying to measure up to all of the animation and anticipation.
Johnny Football is having trouble playing down and living up to all of the hype. Hype, the noun, is defined this way: “exaggerated publicity or hoopla,” and can mean “a swindle, deception, or trick.” Hype, the verb, means “to create interest in by flamboyant or dramatic methods; to promote or publicize showily; to intensify by advertising, promotion, or publicity, or by ingenious or questionable claims or methods.” In other words, hype is “created” or drummed up, and is usually false and fraudulent.
All of the hype surrounding Manziel’s entry into the NFL has overshadowed his actual ability to perform at the next level. He played wonderfully for Texas A&M last year, but terribly last Monday night against the Washington Redskins, going 7-16 for 65 yards, with 3 sacks. Since he didn’t exactly light it up, and he’s not exactly meeting expectations, he will not be the starter for the Browns come September.
And if his poor performance wasn’t enough, for an encore, Manziel raised his middle finger toward the opponents’ bench as he returned to the huddle late in the third quarter of Monday night’s 24-23 loss. Truth be told, it was one of the few times a Browns QB actually found his intended target. “It does not sit well,” Cleveland coach Mike Pettine said. “It’s disappointing, because what we talk about is being poised and being focused. That’s a big part of all football players, especially the quarterback.” Manziel called the moment a “lapse of judgment.” I call that declaration a denial, and the understatement of the year.
New names or nicknames are supposed to describe and define, not dupe and defraud. We should live up to our names, not play down to them. In other words, what people call us and conclude about us is indicative of our life and our lifestyle.
Facts and not hype should be what we are known for. Christians, above all other people of faith, should live up to the name we have been given. The New Testament book of Acts tells us that the followers of Jesus Christ “were first called Christians at Antioch.” Christian means “like Christ.” However, during the First Century, the term “Christian” was a derogatory term; a slight and a slur; an insult and an indignity; and it was a disgrace and a dishonor to be called a Christian by the World at that time. But have times changed?
Some overzealous Christians have “hyped” Christianity by preaching and purporting a Prosperity Doctrine. It’s a goofy gospel that says that as Christians we are always to be healthy and happy, wealthy and well-off, blooming and blossoming. By this standard, no Christian should ever have a bad day. Not true. We have created our own hype and can’t live up to it.
Erwin McManus said that “for those of us who live here in the Western World—and any place that has been affected by affluence, security, safety and comfort—there’s a sense where we begin to buy into a subtle theological lie that God promises us safety and security and comfort and wealth…the truth of the matter is that God has never promised us that we would always be secure or comfortable or become wealthy.”
God has promised us that He will be with us through every phase of life, in good times and in bad, for better or for worse, for richer or for poorer, in sickness and in health; just like the marriage vows, God has promised to be with us through it all.
And so the question is, “Have we lived up to our name?” When we perform poorly and behave badly, when we teach wrongly and live imperfectly, we discredit our Lord, and bring shame to his name. So let’s forget the hype; let’s get back to being salt and light, to being cities on a hill, candles on a tall stick, so that men will see us trust God for everything and in everything.