It almost happened, everybody: the perfect marriage of unhinged player and untethered town, the match of talent and spotlight and hedonism that the NFL hasn't seen since Joe Namath in the early '70s. Johnny Manziel was almost a Cowboy.
You remember draft night from earlier this year, yes? Manziel's fate was one of the draft's biggest stories, and as he fell further down the draft board, the realization dawned: he might be available for Dallas! How amazing would that be?
On paper (or, you know, iPhone) it all seemed perfect: Texas kid joins the Texas royal family, learns the ropes from the aging gunslinger, takes over in 2018, stacks up trophies of both the Lombardi and wife varieties, becomes governor in 2045.
It wasn't to be. With Manziel in the green room and the Cowboys on the clock,
“I want you to know that almost as I was handing in the card, it was that close to putting that Manziel card in. It was that close," Jones told the NFL Network on Sunday. The Cowboys ended up going with Notre Dame guard Zack Martin.
Manziel was, in Jones' words, "the top player by three players on our board at the time," but the team had serious concerns about how well Manziel and incumbent quarterback Tony Romo could function together. Romo recently signed a long-term deal, and Jones expects him to be the Dallas quarterback of the foreseeable future.
Still, just to add a final twist of the knife to Cowboys fans, Jones understood that he'll likely have buyers' remorse: "I know that he is going to be a success in the National Football League, and it was a hard decision. And it is one that I will probably have for the rest of my career think about."
Manziel, of course, would go to the Cleveland Browns, and even though he's a Clevelander still has managed to make headlines for his live-like-you-were-dying ways. Just imagine if he'd ended up in Dallas, though. He'd have already carved a mile-wide swath through town. Oh, the stories he'd tell.
Perhaps it's for the best. Manziel can learn his trade in the relatively low-pressure environment of Cleveland (he's not even the biggest star there anymore, and that's saying something) and show up in Dallas a few years hence when Tony Romo calls it a day. And that governorship remains on the table.