Admit it, Dallas Cowboys fans. You, me and everyone in the know had Johnny Manziel headed for Big “D” once he was still available at No. 16 in the NFL draft.
But Manziel, shown nervously sipping away at a bottle of water, wasn’t talking to anyone on the phone when the Cowboys were on the clock, and that already kind of gave away that Dallas was shopping elsewhere.
So, when Commissioner Roger Goodell announced Notre Dame offensive lineman Zack Martin as the newest Cowboy, my first reaction was, you sure had us all fooled, Jerry Jones.
After all, Jones could have easily fallen for the Manziel hype and understandably found it hard to resist all those No. 2 home-white jerseys he would be selling come first thing Friday morning.
Instead, Jones did the right thing and helped his team get better by drafting the 6-foot-4, 309-pound Martin.
In his own special way, Jones was sending an “I’ve got your back!” message to quarterback Tony Romo.
First off, Romo is the Cowboys’ captain of the ship and will be until Romo’s three years are up or he feels otherwise.
And, secondly, Jones is going to purchase whoever possible to keep Romo off his back, the latest hire being Martin.
“There’s no way any quarterback comes in here and beats out Romo, you know that,” Jones said Thursday. “Romo’s contract, as well as our commitment to him, means he’s certainly going to be the quarterback for the Cowboys for several years to come. There’s no doubt about it.”
But Jones would be lying if he didn’t consider what kind of marketing frenzy Manziel would have stirred up playing in Jerry’s World.
In fact, it wasn’t too long ago when Manziel, with Jones looking on, put on a one-man show in then-Cowboys Stadium to lead Texas A&M to a lopsided win against Oklahoma in the Cotton Bowl.
“This was such an obvious football decision,” Jones said about passing on Manziel. “The idea of flair, flash and show business was never a consideration.”
Still, Jones also had to have in the back of his mind how much longer Romo, who recently celebrated his 34th birthday, really has as a Cowboy.
Remember, Romo’s coming off his second back surgery. One big hit, and Romo could be out for good, the same thing that permanently sidelined Troy Aikman after 12 seasons.
Because contrary to what many believe, it wasn’t the multiple concussions that did Aikman in and forced him to retire. It was his persistent back pain.
However, not Manziel or any of the other quarterbacks in this year’s draft were Romo’s heir apparents, and Jones deserves a big pat on the back for giving Romo that much-needed vote of confidence by not giving in to the general consensus.
The Cowboys can only hope Romo will stay healthy a few more years and maybe one day shake off that Danny White hex of not being able to win the big one.
There’s another Troy Aikman or even Roger Staubach in the Cowboys’ future, but it wasn’t ever in the form of Johnny Football.