It’s past time for TCU to unmuzzle QB Casey Pachall

Posted Wednesday, Jul. 17, 2013  comments  Print Reprints

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engel After sheltering Johnny Manziel from the evil media for nearly all of last season, on Wednesday Texas A&M let him loose to face the tirelessly noisy press at SEC media day amid a question of just how much fun a college sophomore should have.

Next week in Dallas, the Big 12 media days will commence and TCU will not let loose the second-most interesting quarterback of the 2013 season.

Where will Casey Pachall be? Behind a curtain, where most TCU players reside until their head coach has properly installed the fear of Gary Patterson into them. After all, the players could reveal something as potentially incriminating as the direction of the sunrise.

Fans don’t care about media access to players, be they professional or athlete-students. Fans want us hacks to just support their team, bash the other team and then shut up. Totally agree.

This is not some self-serving rant about how GP needs to let his kids talk to dorky media people such as myself. He wouldn’t listen anyway, and I say this as someone who genuinely likes the man.

TCU will eventually let Casey talk to the media, in a hyper-paranoid controlled atmosphere, where Pachall will be expected to recount the personal hell his life was from October 2012 when he left school until the time he returned in January. This was always going to be part of the re-entry process, and it certainly doesn’t have to go forever.

If TCU is going to continue to support Casey as much as it has — and it has — then it needs to prepare him not only for this interview but every other that he is sure to face when he begins to think about the NFL.

He has the tools to play in the NFL. Maybe not as a star QB, but he could earn a check as a pro passer.

Casey is not dumb; he’s on track to earn his degree in the fall and, by all accounts, he is doing everything he can scholastically, as a person and as a player. He is trying, and doing, all the right things.

What Casey is not particularly adept at yet is speaking in public. Not everyone can be Peyton Manning in front of a microphone. It’s not a natural skill for most athletes.

He needs to learn.

I have yet to come across a quality NFL quarterback who struggles with expressing his thoughts and feelings. These guys can all talk — Brady, Brees, Manning, Rivers, Stafford, all of them.

Most enter the league knowing how: 2012 first-round picks Robert Griffin III, Andrew Luck, Ryan Tannehill and Brandon Weeden were all adept at handling what has become part of the job description.

The only recent exception that springs to mind was Michael Vick, before he went to jail for his involvement in dog fighting after the 2006 season. When he returned to the NFL in 2009, he sounded like a completely different man.

By the time he was playing with the Philadelphia Eagles, he had mastered the art of speaking to a crowd, or into a microphone and a camera. Downplay this all you want, but in today’s age, this skill matters.

There is no wrong or right way to handle a story as sensitive as Casey’s, and rest assured he is going to do what his head coach tells him to do, just as everyone else does at TCU.

Texas A&M is trusting Manziel to be a young adult about his high-profile fun.

Casey’s story is far more sensitive than Manziel’s. Manziel has not broken any law, and he didn’t enter any treatment facility. There is a lot of personal stuff going on with Pachall. It should be his decision whether to share or not.

But what media nerds like me ask is nothing compared to what NFL scouts, executives and coaches will ask in the predraft meetings. Ask Dez Bryant, whom an NFL executive once asked if his mother was a prostitute.

TCU has worked, and been patient, with Casey on everything from check downs to earning his degree to supporting him through a difficult personal situation. TCU didn’t have to take him back, and he didn’t have to return.

But he is here now and the day is drawing near when GP reluctantly will allow his quarterback to face the uncomfortable questions.

Get him used to it.

Mac Engel, 817-390-7697 Twitter: @macengelprof

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