Tuesday afternoon, Ron Jaworski went on Philly radio and gave his personal assessment of Johnny Manziel that would go on to completely dominate a full day of the 24/7 news cycle on Wednesday.  The former Heisman winner is a consensus Top 10 selection, but Jaws declared that Manziel was a project and he wouldn’t draft the Texas A&M star in the first three rounds.  Here’s what Jaworski said on 97.5 The Fanatic.

“I’m a big believer in Nick Foles, but who knows?” Jaworski said. “Manziel may fall. I’m not crazy about him, to be honest with you. I’ve only looked at five games. I wouldn’t take him in the first three rounds. That’s my opinion. It’s incomplete right now. But he has not done a whole lot to me.”  

And yes, Jaworski later admitted one of those games was Manziel gaining 562 yards and throwing for 5 TDs against Alabama. It’s the second time Jaworski has made his way into the headlines for an extreme viewpoint on a quarterback. Why, it was just last summer that Jaws proclaimed Colin Kaepernick could be the greatest quarterback of all-time in what was a made-for-ESPN and made-by-ESPN story. Jaworski’s perspective on Manziel is certainly a fringe viewpoint, but it’s perfect to be slurped up and used as debate fodder.

It’s not as captivating an argument to debate whether Johnny Football should be the first or second quarterback taken in the draft. If you have two diametrically opposed viewpoints, though, with Manziel being a bonafide top prospect or on the level of Giovanni Carmazzi, suddenly we can Embrace Debate.

With these comments coming at the post-Olympic dead zone of late February with nothing going on in the sports world but regular season basketball, it was the perfect time to get the hamsters spinning their wheels in the ESPN Echo Chamber and turn these comments by Jaworski into the definitive news story of the day. It set up perfectly for Bristol. A story featuring one of their top analysts (Jaws) saying something highly debatable about one of their favorite celebrity obsessions (Manziel) regarding one of their high-profile events (the NFL Draft). It couldn’t have been planned any better.

In fairness to ESPN, they were not the only ones pushing this story. Jaworski’s comments on Manziel were everywhere in the media including NFL.com, PFT, Bleacher Report, USA Today, and every blog under the sun. Jaworski was even the top news headline on SI.com early Thursday morning. This wasn’t just something that was dreamed up by a SportsCenter producer.

But there’s a major difference between one headline on a blog and breathless 24/7 coverage. This machine is one of the biggest advantages ESPN has over all their competition. Fox, CBS, NBC, and Yahoo don’t have the combined reach over multiple platforms that ESPN does. That’s where the ESPN Echo Chamber hits full gear and changes the game. When the ESPN machine decides to put its full weight behind a story and push it on television, radio, and online, it gets to set the agenda in the sports world. If you turned on any ESPN program yesterday, you found people talking about, analyzing, and debating Jaworski’s comments on Johnny Manziel….

Like the sun rising in the east, it was the first debate topic on First Take. Thankfully with Skip & Stephen A out on vacation, it was actually an adult conversation!

At Numbers Never Lie, Michael Smith’s first response was to laugh and say “Ron Jaworski out there trollin.”

Jaworski was the top story on NFL Insiders…

As well as NFL Live that aired directly afterwards on ESPN, where Jaws himself joined the show as a guest and dramatically said “there are a number of major concerns that I have as I project Johnny Manziel to the NATIONAL… FOOTBALL… LEAGUE.” You know it’s serious when you have to spell out what NFL actually stands for…

Then there was the conversation about Jaworski on Highly Questionable…

The Jaws-Manziel controversy made the “A” block of Around the Horn…

And PTI…

And one SportsCenter episode after another after another after another…

On the 6 PM SportsCenter, in which the absurd stats split between “Games Ron Jaworski watched film on” and “Games in which Ron Jaworski did not watch film” appeared (I wonder if that’s sortable on the Pro Football Reference database), we also got the piece de resistance of the ESPN Echo Chamber. ESPN aired a mash-up of ESPN personalities breaking down what an ESPN analyst said about Johnny Manziel featuring Colin Cowherd, Herm Edwards, Mel Kiper, Ashley Fox, Ryan Clark, and Jorge Sedano.

Moments later, ESPN presented a poll question asking fans whether Johnny Manziel or Jadeveon Clowney should be the #1 overall pick in the NFL Draft. After debating whether Manziel was a Top 100 prospect all day, ESPN immediately transitioned to a debate asking whether he should be the #1 overall pick.

You can’t make it up.

About Matt Yoder

Award winning sportswriter at The Comeback and Awful Announcing. The biggest cat in the whole wide world.

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