Troy Aikman said Wednesday he was surprised that Dallas Cowboys owner and general manager Jerry Jones passed on Johnny Manziel in the NFL Draft.
“I thought there was a real good chance if he fell to the Cowboys’ pick that he would take him,” said Aikman, the former Dallas quarterback turned Fox NFL analyst.
“I understand why they didn’t. It would have certainly added a lot of excitement around here, but I don’t think it would have been best for the club, certainly not in the short term. There’s a lot of other needs, as we saw last year, that this team has, so it was probably the right thing not taking him, but I was a little surprised. I think that had to have been a difficult decision for Jerry.”
Aikman, speaking during a United Way event at AT&T Stadium, said he expects the former Texas A&M quarterback to have a successful career if he can stay focused on football.
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“I think when the time comes for him to get serious about football and put in the time, I’m confident he’ll do that,” Aikman said. “He’s going to have to do that if he’s going to be successful. There’s no shortcuts in this league to becoming a great player. Cleveland has invested a lot in him and expects a lot from him, and I’m sure he recognizes that.”
Manziel, who in 2012 became the first freshman to win the Heisman Trophy, has made his fun-loving lifestyle well-known this off-season. Photos on social media have shown him partying with Justin Bieber and rolling money in a Las Vegas bathroom, leading Browns owner Jimmy Haslam to tell his quarterback to “tone it down,” according to reports.
Curtailing these distractions when the time comes to play football, Aikman said, will certainly help Manziel succeed.
“He likes to have a good time, I know that, but if he can stay focused on football and commit himself, which is what it’s going to require, I think he has a chance to be really good,” Aikman said.
Aikman was promoting the United Way’s Nine for 90 project, which advocates active lifestyles for youngsters in the Metroplex.