After making the trek in the dark of the night from Austin to scenic College Station, I realize I have been provided with no instructions. I spend the hour before Johnny Manziel's pro day in a panic, not sure where I'm supposed to go.
College Station feels both simple and confusing. Nothing is where I'm told it is. I finally get texted a series of directions. It feels like I'm headed to some sort of secret society meeting. I quickly find that is not the case as I end up at the scout entrance instead of the media entrance.
Johnny Football's pro day
Running late and not wanting to circle the building, I tell the two college girls handing out credentials that I'm with a team. They write my name on a tag and apologize that they didn't have a credential waiting for me. That was easy enough.
I walk right in. Everyone and George H.W. Bush's dog is here. NFL execs scattered about. The media is packed in behind barricades on the opposite end zone. I find a spot on the sidelines next to some scouts from the Packers, Broncos and Bucs, as well as several A&M players.
Manziel has decided to play in full pads, and that seems to be the hottest topic of discussion. The scouts ask each other if they've ever seen a quarterback do this in full pads before. None of them have, but they're all very excited to see it. For the most part their discussions are personal: complaining about the draft being moved up ruining their vacations, talking about past pro days they weren't impressed with, how their families are doing, what their travel plans are. More than anything else, Manziel's pro day seems like a time for these guys to get together, catch up and just enjoy the spectacle that is Johnny Football.
And it certainly is a spectacle. A golf cart with George and Barbara Bush, as well as their two dogs, rolls up behind me. They never leave said golf cart, but why would they? The dogs sleep through the whole thing, and I don't think I see them move at all. Actually, someone should probably check on the dogs, they're missing some great throws.
The soundtrack is mostly Drake, as expected, but the music is barely audible and I'm struggling to get my vibe on. It must just be me, though: Manziel is not struggling to get his vibe on. He manages to remain on point even while being chased by a man with ... wait, is that a broom? That's a broom. And suddenly I realize how ridiculous this all is. I'm surrounded by NFL GMs and coaches and scouts ... and we're all watching a grown man get chased by a man with a broom. While listening to Drake. I'm suddenly grateful that cameras aren't on me because I can't stop laughing.
I'm certainly impressed with Manziel, at least. Watching him throw up close is fun as hell, even in these strange conditions. But I just cannot get over the scene of it all. The former president and his dogs. The players audibly cheering Manziel on after every throw. The media piled on top of each other trying to get a glimpse of the magic. At one point the music stops and all we can hear is the sound of a train that sounds like it might plow through the building. Even that feels well-timed. I half-expect Manziel to stop in the middle of everything and yell "ARE YOU NOT ENTERTAINED?"
And then it's over. People swarm every which way. What happens now? Do I leave? Is there more? I have literally no idea. Am I even supposed to be here? Are any of us supposed to be here? What is the meaning of it all? "Nothing was the same," a voice whispers in my head. Oh God, what's happening to me? I can feel myself being taken over by the circus. I'm ready to participate.
There are a few things you should know about me: I hate being told I can't do something, I have no shame, nothing makes me happier than making other people laugh and I am super creepy. While standing behind Manziel's first interview, I make a joke about photobombing. I'm immediately told I won't do it.
Maybe under different circumstances I wouldn't do it, but this time ... this day ... this ridiculous day. It has to be done. I try to sneak into the shot but feel an arm across my stomach. A man with a subpar gray mustache in an A&M windbreaker scolds me. "You're drifting into the shot." I apologize. I look at the screen and my feet are still in the shot. I start kicking and dancing until the interview ends, but it just isn't good enough. I need more. As Manziel goes over to his second interview, I decide to make my move and stand directly behind him. I wait for someone to tell me I can't stand there, but no one does. There is no one near me outside of the media barricade. I have gone rogue. I am fully in the shot. This is my time.
A&M windbreaker man finds me. "You're in the shot, can you go ... somewhere else?" YOU'RE TOO LATE WINDBREAKER MAN. The damage has been done. The legacy has been created. I have photobombed Johnny Football on ESPN, which means it lives on forever. The world now knows the true absurdity of NFL pro days. No one can stop me. I am Drake. OVO.
Ed: Lana's banned from going to any pro day again. Like, forever.