SEC Disclosure: An Intellectual Separation as Manziel Moves North?


No-longer-suspended-from-Twitter ESPN “Sports Business Reporter” Darren Rovell buried the lede in a story published yesterday related to the news that some leaders at Texas A&M are considering renaming the schools’ football stadium “Kyle Field: The House That Johnny Built.” Rather than a foolhardy, if historically accurate, branding exercise, the real story here is the apparent rift between former Aggie quarterback Johnny Manziel and “Uncle” Nate Fitch, Manziel’s longtime friend and manager of sorts.

The details of Fitch’s relationship with the former Heisman Trophy winner are sketchy, but the story seems to be that Fitch saw a star in his high-school friend and went all-in:

[Fitch is] a college dropout, in the entrepreneurial sense of the word, more dreamer than slacker. He’s Manziel’s assistant, media coordinator, business manager, designated driver. He goes by Uncle Nate, which is a nickname Manziel says Fitch gave himself. Fitch, 20, allegedly works for free, betting on the come, looking into the future when Manziel is an NFL star. He wears a gold rope bracelet, acting like an agent on a television show, talking with confidence about tit-for-tat horse trading and his deep knowledge of the NCAA rulebook. . . . As publicists go, he handled himself like a pro.

Now, however, the news of the possible renaming of Kyle Field has shed new light on the relationship between Fitch and Manziel, and it looks like the two aren’t on the same page. According to the Rovell story, Fitch’s family attempted to register “The House That Johnny Built” as a trademark, but the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office refused the requested registration. Manziel himself already applied for the same trademark back in January.

What’s going on between these two? I obviously don’t know, and my sources in the Houston area aren’t talking, but it sure looks like Manziel and Fitch have gone from collaborators to competitors.

About an hour after the Cleveland Browns drafted Manziel late in the first round of the NFL draft last week, Fitch posted a tweet:


There are plenty of obvious potential narratives here, but the fact that no one seems to be investigating the apparent discord between Manziel and Fitch may simply be a testament to the overwhelming scope of the NFL stage. Over the past two years, reporters couldn’t get enough of Johnny Manziel, SEC quarterback. As of last Thursday, though, he’s just another NFL rookie.


The Essential Michael Sam

Following NFL draft prospect Michael Sam’s announcement about his sexual orientation (he’s gay) last weekend, many people wrote and said many stupid things. Many more, I hope and believe, wrote and said positive things. The reality, though, is that few of us knew Sam’s name a week ago, which is a little bit baffling when we found out he was the top defensive player in the top college football conference, perhaps the truest testament to the bandied axiom that this is the football age of offense. As a result, the other reality this week is that few people’s responsive comments have been insightful or of much consequence.

Thankfully, there have been exceptions. The first was the video SB Nation/KSK’s Matt Ufford made the day after Sam’s announcement:

The second was Jeb Lund’s intelligently written article for Sports on Earth, posted later that same day, which took aim at Sam’s critics with precision.

The other two items are the dispassionate scouting reports of SoE’s Russ Lande and MMQB’s Greg Bedard. Lande holds some optimism for Sam’s draft position, while Bedard is more cynical, even going so far as to write that Sam may not be drafted at all.


One has to think that Sam has a better chance of playing in the NFL– whether a team takes him in the draft or offers him a chance as an undrafted free agent– than Jason Collins had of extending his NBA career following his own sexual orientation announcement. As those scouting reports imply, though, it likely will be impossible to know whether or how Sam’s announcement affects his draft outcome this May.


The ALDLAND Podcast might have taken two weeks off, but it is back and better than ever. Listen to your favorite cohost get all melodramatic about the NBA Draft before moving on to actual NBA discussion as we recap the exciting NBA Finals. Also featured is discussion of Darren Rovell’s interesting take on the Aaron Hernandez situation. Last, but not least, I unveil my innovative compromise to the Washington Redskins name situation.


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Not a lot going on in the sports world these days with the MLB still getting into the swing (heh) of things and the NHL not quite to the playoffs yet. Co-host Marcus “Primetime” Paschall and I have scraped the bottom of the barrel and come up with some discussion of the thus far lackluster NBA playoffs, which is really more of a discussion of hypothetical future playoff matchups. But it will still be fun for you because what else do you have to do?  Work?  Hang out with family? So listen as we dig into the meat of the NBA playoffs and talk about the excessive NFL Draft coverage on ESPN.


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Let’s get statistical: Playing the NBA Draft Lottery

The NBA Draft Lottery is the ping-pong-ball-centered game the league plays with the four worst teams from the previous season to determine the order of selections for the next player draft. It’s basically beruit/beer pong with millions of dollars instead of Keystone Light, and, like timid lightweights, the winner doesn’t want to stay on the table for the next round.

The positions are selected in descending order, and the number of balls a team has in the hopper is inversely proportioned to how well the team finished the prior season. The ostensible idea is to give the last-place team the best shot of getting the first overall pick (i.e., the best chance at improving its lot in the future). Why not just award the worst team the first pick as a rule? I suppose the idea is to avoid the sort of tanking that allegedly is a problem in the NFL, where such a rule is in effect. Injecting an element of chance means it’s harder to game the system in a way that’s detrimental to the game– losing on purpose– although it can’t fully do away with the incentive to lose so long as it maintains its rehabilitative goal.

This year, the Charlotte Bobcats had the worst season in NBA history. The New Orleans Hornets, recently late of league ownership, merely had the fourth worst of the 2011-2012 season. This year’s draft lottery thus was arranged with the stated goal of giving the Bobcats the best shot at the first pick and the Hornets the worst.

Of course, once everyone saw that the Hornets would be in the mix for this year’s draft lottery, the conspiracy theorists, folk singers of my literary heart, rolled out their obvious prediction: the league was going to rig the lottery so that the Hornets got the top pick. Keep reading…

Why don’t the Colts pick up David Garrard?

Rotoworld reports:

Colts not going after David Garrard –

The Colts have not contacted free agent QB David Garrard. With the inept Kerry Collins being evaluated for a concussion and Peyton Manning (neck) likely out for the season, Colts fans are clamoring for an addition. But the team might be best off going with Collins and Curtis Painter, thus entering themselves in the Suck for Luck sweepstakes. The Colts have not shown any interest in Kurt Warner or Marc Bulger either, although they are both retired anyway.

I was thinking last night that Indy should make a move for Garrard, whom Jacksonville almost certainly shouldn’t have let go. They probably will have to lose every game– something of which they’re undoubtedly capable– to get Andrew Luck, but it still is amazing to think that a team like the Colts would even be in a position where flushing a season looked like the team’s best (and possibly only) option. Keep reading…

Peyton Manning is done for the year

Pro Football Talk reports:

The Colts are 0-3, but their season is essentially over.  Peyton Manning will not be coming back to save the team.

Owner Jim Irsay announced at a breakfast meeting with Super Bowl donors Monday that Manning will miss the entire season, according to WISH-TV in Indianapolis.

Irsay may be speaking out of turn, but you can do that when you own the team.  Even if the Colts don’t make a move to injured reserve official just yet, this is a sign the Colts have no expectations Manning will return.

Indianapolis will surely have a high draft pick in a good year for college quarterbacks.  They may just be high enough to draft Andrew Luck first overall.

Obviously this all but ensures the accuracy of my preseason prediction that the Colts will lose every game this year. I think the Andrew Luck question is a bit less obvious. Setting aside the common, generic draft-day debate of whether a team should draft for need or always take the best player available regardless of need, would the Colts take Luck? Maybe I’m just so used to thinking of the Colts and Manning together, and also thinking that Manning was basically indestructible– not necessarily because he’s physically tough, but because he’s succeeded in avoiding a lot of damaging hits– that it’s initially hard to think of Indy taking a QB, especially when they seem to have so many other needs. If Manning’s done for good, this of course becomes a moot conversation.