"I knew with Manziel it would be a frenzy. And probably even if he didn't succeed at being an outstanding NFL quarterback for a couple years, the fans would have been frenzied." --Houston Texans owner Bob McNair to ESPN.com, 8/8/14
As owner of the Houston Texans, when it comes to evaluating talent, Bob McNair has been hit or miss, right sometimes and wrong a fair amount of times. But I'll be damned if he didn't nail his evaluation of how NFL fans would consume Johnny Manziel.
A frenzy. Spot freaking on.
Now, McNair's evaluation (to be fair, the evaluation made by people hired by McNair) of Manziel as an actual football player may end up being a tad off. The Texans passed on Manziel at the top of the draft, and then chose not to deal for him when he fell in the first round. McNair, in the same interview, implied that Manziel wasn't a "fit for the Texans system," a likely football double meaning that encompasses not only the playbook of Bill O'Brien but the hullaballoo created by the aforementioned frenzy.
The Texans seem to be anti-frenzy. That's the sense I get.
If it was football proficiency the Texans were passing on by saying "NO" to Manziel, time will tell if they were right. But they undoubtedly took a pass on being relevant, at least in the near term.
The TV viewing numbers for Manziel's debut Saturday bear that out.
Courtesy of The Big Lead, Johnny Manziel's preseason debut on the NFL Network was the most-watched preseason game in the history of the NFL Network:
Johnny Manziel's NFL debut was a smash hit on television, and the NFL Network just announced the monster numbers: 1.81 rating and an average of 2.2 million viewers, resulting in the highest-rated and most-watched preseason game ever on the NFL Network.
If you're wondering, yes, that's a monster number for a preseason game, especially considering it took place in prime time on a Saturday night in the summer, and not on a widely viewed network, cable or otherwise.
Also, in case you're wondering, the ratings were twice the national number in the city of Houston, with Johnny pulling a 3.6 in the Nielsen homes here in town. Again, keep in mind Johnny didn't start taking snaps in his game until the Texans game had kicked off. (Admittedly, I missed watching J.J. Watt's sack of Carson Palmer live because I was clicked over to the NFL Network.) So his 3.6 here was racked up with the Texans actually playing football on another channel.
The highest rated preseason games ever on the NFL Network, according to the network, are now as follows (again, thanks TBL for the numbers):
1) Aug. 9, 2014: Cleveland vs. Detroit. 1.81 US HH / 2.82 M viewers 2) Aug. 5, 2007: New Orleans vs. Pittsburgh (HOF). 1.25 US HH / 2.07 M viewers 3) Aug. 15, 2010: Denver vs. Cincinnati. 1.23 US HH / 2.01 M viewers 4) Aug. 5, 2012: Arizona vs. New Orleans (HOF). 1.25 US HH / 1.97 M viewers 5) Aug. 18, 2012: New York Giants vs. New York Jets. 1.27 US HH / 1.90 M viewers
So it wasn't even close. Manziel's debut was 50 percent higher than the next highest rated game.
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So when inevitably some of you post in the comments section about how sick you are of reading about Johnny Manziel (comments section can be found below, as if you needed to know), and type "Please get off of his jock, and find something else to write about," um....yeah, he's still topical.
But thank you for clicking. And the NFL Network thanks you for watching. The Browns next game is this coming Monday on ESPN, but I'm guessing you already knew this.
The numbers say you do. Resume frenzy.