Thursday, April 19, 2018
Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Blake Bortles versus Karsdashian in cleats

Quarterback A threw a touchdown and banged his head five times with a Microsoft Surface computer on Sunday. Quarterback B threw three touchdowns and did not need to slap some sense into himself.

Which QB got all the publicity?

A, of course. Mainly because his stage name is Johnny Football and the world can't help gawking.

B has no stage name, though Invisible Blake might work.

He is Blake Bortles. If you know him, and a lot of people around central Florida certainly do, you know he's fine with quarterbacking in relative obscurity.

But just for fun, imagine if Johnny Manziel had done what Bortles did the past three weeks. Donald Trump could have called for a ban on all Star Wars movies, and it wouldn't have gotten as much attention.

Bortles threw 10 touchdowns for the Jaguars, a team that averaged 38.3 points a game, including Sunday's 51-16 victory over Indianapolis.

In Cleveland, the TMZ Kid was benched two games for lying to his coach about partying and telling friends to do the same.

All was cool until the inevitable video surfaced of Manziel rapping in the deejay booth of a Texas nightclub, bottle of Dom Perignon in his hand. Because the half-dozen other QBs they've tried were either hurt or pathetic, the Browns made Manziel the starter on Sunday.

He helped Cleveland beat San Francisco 24-10 and snap a seven-game losing streak. Manziel flashed the skills he showed regularly at Texas A&M. He also autographed a $100 bill before the game and threw a bad interception.

The last one triggered the head-bashing when he went to the sideline and saw the replay on the Surface. It was classic Manziel, the kind of thing that has gotten the second QB taken in the 2014 draft so much more attention than the first.

That may not seem fair, but it's inevitable. For one thing, Bortles didn't win a Heisman, and he plays in the NFL backwater of Jacksonville.

But beyond that, tabloid sells. Bortles never has been photographed swigging champagne while floating on an inflatable swan.

He's never gotten a shout-out in a song by his friend Drake or flipped a bird at the opposing sideline. He's never partied with Floyd Mayweather at Justin Bieber's Hollywood crib or been called out by teammates for a lack of commitment.

Manziel's career NFL stats are six touchdown passes, five interceptions, 10 weeks in rehab and 4.2 billion hours of media attention. He is a Kardashian in cleats — famous for being famous.

He got glowing reviews Sunday for how he owned up to his interception and how he'd shown growth as a quarterback.

You want growth as a quarterback?

Bortles had 11 touchdown passes as a rookie last season. This year has 30.

That's more this season than Aaron Rodgers, Cam Newton, Russell Wilson and Drew Brees. It's only one fewer than five Cleveland starters have thrown the past two seasons.

That doesn't mean Bortles is the next Rodgers. But you don't hear any more questions whether the Jags were dopes to use a No. 3 overall pick on the guy from UCF. The question now is: How good will Invisible Blake become?

"He is going to lead us where we need to go," receiver Allen Hurns said. "He always had his confidence. The offense as a whole followed behind that."

As for Manziel, he's auditioning to stay in Cleveland. There's talk Johnny Football will end up in Dallas next season.

On behalf of tabloid fans everywhere, all I can say is: PLEASE GOD, LET IT HAPPEN!

With Jerry Jones as his wing man, there's no telling how famous Manziel could become for being famous.

Meanwhile in Jacksonville, Bortles will happily become famous for being a football player.

Orlando Sentinel (TNS)

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