The Johnny Manziel Show debuted Sunday with more promotion and hoopla than what successful veteran quarterbacks generally experience. The Cleveland-Cincinnati game went national -- and Manziel had a horrific afternoon. He was 10-for-18 for all of 80 yards. He also threw two interceptions, leading his team to zero points and a loss that knocked the Browns out of playoff contention.

None of this is surprising for a rookie QB in his first start. But he has made it much harder on himself than necessary by incurring the disdain of defensive players all around the NFL.

Bengals defensive end Wallace Gilberry sacked Manziel and stood over the rookie QB flashing the money sign that Johnny has made his trademark. Gilberry later said, "He brought it on himself."

"Everything was all about Manziel all week," said veteran Bengals LB Rey Maualuga, who was flagged for taunting Manziel after knocking down a pass. Veteran players are clearly upset about the Manziel circus, and his taunting of the Redskins in pre-season.

I have represented 120-plus QBs over the last 40 years. Johnny Manziel is not one of them, and my comments are not in attempt to second-guess. But I did suggest in this space post-draft that Manziel would be best served by adopting the low-key, under-the-radar posture of other highly paid rookies entering the NFL. He did not create the ESPN college coverage, emboldened by his Heisman Trophy win, that blew him into a national phenomenon as he left college.

But it is important to earn the respect of the management, coaches and players on a team, and to understand that performance on the field being is key. The fact that a national television ad featuring Manziel ran incessantly before Manziel had taken more than a few NFL snaps doesn’t make a player "one of the guys." Players like Troy Aikman and Steve Young waited until they had won Super Bowls to do major endorsements.

Adjusting to the pro game requires being on the field and reading defenses for some time before it all clicks. There is a natural adjustment cycle that any rookie quarterback must experience. Keeping expectations low can take the pressure off the rookie. Cleveland had the best late-season record in years behind veteran quarterback Brian Hoyer, and Manziel replaced him. Even with Hoyer’s late season struggles, there are shoes to fill.

I think Johnny Manziel has freakishly unique skills. He showed in college a unique ability to extend plays and bring a team back to victory when they were far behind. Eventually he will be a successful NFL quarterback. Dealing with talented veteran defensive players putting pressure on a rookie QB is challenging at best -- having defensive players extra motivated to punish him is disastrous.

There will come a time when Manziel has earned veteran respect and be an accomplished NFL quarterback. Until then, prudence would dictate he lets his play on the field speak for itself -- and keep those twitchy money-flashing fingers in his pockets.

Under Armour has been named Ad Age's Marketer of the Year primarily for its novel approach marketing to women. The success Under Armour has enjoyed with its I Will campaign underscores why Title IX -- while generating lots of positive results -- has been an abject failure in reshaping opportunities for women in sports marketing and redefining the way our society treats and values women’s sports.

Now Puma has followed suit by signing Rihanna as the face of its women's fitness line and giving her the title of "creative director."

When Under Armour debuted its Gisele TV commercial, while acknowledging its effectiveness, I offered the opinion that a double standard has been created by the media, and that double standard has shaped viewing habits, public opinion and marketing. I concluded that this trend does not bode well for the growth of women's sports nor does it help top-tier female athletes.

The starting point of all this is that women's sports get a fraction of the respect and audience that men's sports do. The media have not historically promoted or distributed women's sports. And most women athletes grew up looking up to male athletes as their "role model."

Title IX was supposed to change all that. But while girls got to "play" instead of "cheerlead," our sports viewing habits did not change. Why? The reason is that, while schools had to change and let girls play sports, the media were allowed to continue their old ways of ignoring women’s sports. A primary reason why we do not perceive men and female athletes equally is that the media treat them like second-class citizens -- and advertisers only follow suit.

Bottom line, our attitude toward women's athletes is shaped by sport media and Madison Avenue. And Madison Avenue sets the standard for our double standard of social currency among men (rich/winner/athletic) and women (attractive/youthful).

When it comes to male athletes, all that matters is whether you win at one of the major sports. The general rule is that if you are a winner -- the best in the business -- then you will be rewarded handsomely with endorsements or marketing deals (Shaq, Kobe, LeBron, Kevin Durant). In marked contrast, the sports brands realized over the years that you don't have to pay top women athletes the big bucks no matter what.

For example, when we represented Lisa Leslie, the best player in the WNBA, Nike kept reducing its offers to Lisa even as she got better and more dominant as a player. The reasoning was that Nike discovered that male athletes were "still" driving the sales of the shoes anyway (girls looked up to the male athletes more because of the additional exposure and promotion that they received).

More recently, as women have been wearing workout gear or athletic apparel throughout the day (as men have done for years), the sports brands have started to experiment with different approaches seeing this as a growth market. Now there is much more emphasis on whether a female athlete is attractive and youthful, rather than the best in the world. In fact, it is arguably better to be an athletic youthful model rather than athlete who happens to be attractive (at least from Under Armour’s perspective). All of this is completely in line with Madison Avenue's view of how to market women.

There was quite a bit of chatter around Under Armour's signing Gisele to a reportedly whopping deal to be the face of its women's athletic footwear and apparel line. Obviously, Gisele is super attractive and even athletic and perhaps even a remarkable lady -- but she certainly is not considered a world-class athlete or more importantly she is not best in the world at a sport that large numbers of girls play (i.e. soccer, basketball or volleyball).

But who can argue with Under Armour's results in light of the growth for its women's business as a result of the I Will campaign.

I appreciate attractive female athletes, but I don't think that being physically attractive (usually models or actresses win this battle) should be the initial criterion when a sports brand is deciding whether to sign a woman endorser. But it seems the women that are buying the product don't really care about this.

If we really want to see change, the sports media, starting with the major distributors like ESPN, Fox and NBC, should be required to promote and distribute a certain amount of women's sports on TV. Girls and women need to be conditioned to watch women’s sports. They make up more than half the viewing audience for goodness sake. Not only should sports companies should apply the same standard to female athletes as they do to men, they should make women's sports just as relevant to women as men's sports are to men. Interested in your thoughts.

-- Leonard Armato has distinguished himself as a ground-breaking marketer, brand strategist and entrepreneur, launching some of the world's most renowned cross-industry careers, such as Shaquille O'Neal and Oscar de La Hoya. For years he has been a leader in the convergence of sports, entertainment, music, marketing and technology. Follow him on Twitter @leonardarmato.

The next group of prospective NFL draft prospects and veteran free agents will be the most heavily scrutinized athletes ever. Character and personal issues will take on a foremost role in making draft decisions. The Aaron Hernandez, Ray Rice and Adrian Peterson cases sent a shivering chill through coaching staffs and front offices across the league. Teams will be hyper-agressive in ensuring that the players they select do not have conduct that puts a season or franchise reputation in question.

The Personal Conduct policy issued by commissioner Roger Goodell last week lays out with crystal clarity which off-field behavior will not be tolerated. It is a long and expansive list of proscribed actions. It also reaffirms that an incident or arrest is enough to give an independent committee the right to hear the facts and act. The presumption of innocence that guides criminal courts is divorced from the standards the NFL will use. An incident will be investigated and punishment assigned if findings warrant -- immediately. The player will have the right of appeal, but will immediately be placed on leave with pay or on a commissioner exempt list.

The salary cap plays a critical role here. The cap deprives a team of the room to have high draft picks and valuable veterans as backups to starters. This means that when a talented starter is taken off a team's active list for personal conduct -- his cap space is frozen. The team has no real ability to go out and sign an equivalent player. It is not a matter of financial wherewithal. It is dead cap space. Even if they could find a replacement available, they can't sign him. For a team in the playoff hunt, the spector of off-field behavior destroying its chances has raised major anxiety.

How can a franchise guarantee for itself that it doesn't draft or sign a player with behavioral risk? The best predictor of future behavior is past conduct. Teams will use their own personnel and outside investigators to delve deep into a athletes past -- from grade school to the present. They will conduct interviews with coaches, friends, teachers, law enforcement to look for red flags. The players will be re-interviewed over and over again on questionable behavior during scouting.

Is there a reliable metric or test that can predict later problems? Dave Blanchard of the Og Mandino group in Salt Lake City has developed a test that can spot problematic behavioral tendencies. A team could either pass on the player, or take him knowing there is psychological work that must be done. Professor Josh Gordon of University of Oregon has done pioneering work in crisis prevention and intervention.

With the financial and performance stakes as high as they are in the NFL, psychological methodology is going to take center stage in evaluations. I have tried to profile prospective clients for years with great success, but it did not prevent us from representing QB Ryan Leaf.

The era of character has arrived.

Early in the third quarter Sunday, Tom Brady scrambled for a 17-yard gain on a third-and-11 play. It was compelling enough to see Brady go for his longest run since a 19-yarder in 2007, but he spiced it up further by lowering a shoulder into Dolphins safety Walt Aikens.

So much for sliding.

"It's always fun seeing the Clydesdale run," receiver Julian Edelman told

Brady, though, had a different animal in mind when he posted this video mashup of his run -- complete with Chariots Of Fire music -- to his Facebook page.

The Patriots scored on the next play, a 3-yard touchdown run by LeGarrette Blount, and rolled to a 41-13 win against against Miami to clinch the AFC East title.

"I could have slid, but I wasn’t in the best mood that time," Brady said. "If he was a bigger guy I would have thought really hard about sliding, but once I was in the secondary… things happen pretty quick for me out there. I'm not the fastest guy out there so things close down pretty quick."

Brady's career long is a 22-yard run in 2006 against Cincinnati, which also came on a third-and-long situation. The result was similar too with the Patriots winning 38-13.

A professional soccer player in Argentina died from injuries sustained when rival fans beat him on the head with either a brick or a stone.

Franco Nieto, captain of the Tiro Federal club in Argentina's third division, was leaving the stadium after fights prompted officials to end the match 15 minutes early. He was 33.

The Guardian quote his nephew Pablo as saying: "People came to insult him. They kicked him and punched him. He tried to defend himself but he was struck violently in the head."

Additionally, the BBC reports that Pablo said Franco was headed toward his car with his wife and one-month-old daughter when the attack by Chacarita Juniors fans occurred.

If this news wasn't awful enough, the BBC report included two boggling statistics:

-- "This year, 15 people have died in football-related violence in Argentina."
-- "Deaths caused by football-related violence have tripled in 2014."

Police report that three arrests have been made in this case.

In the latest installment of the sports documentary series State Of Play on HBO, Peter Berg examines the issue of safety in football. Berg begins by telling the story of a Texas high school player who was paralyzed in a 2003 game and then died a few years later. Then he explores how the NFL and NFL Players Association are trying to improve coaching and standards.

At one point, Berg says to Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, "If I were the coach of your son -- if you had a 12-year-old son -- what would you ask me?"

Jones responds, "Coach, are you showing him where to put his head" It'd just be that simple."

This episode premieres Tuesday at 10 p.m. ET/PT. Here's a preview:

I continue to believe that the spectrum of concussions in sports involving collisions is a ticking time bomb, and is a largely undiagnosed public health crisis that urgently needs a solution. Prevention is one priority, teaching better blocking and tackling techniques to young athletes and limiting off-season practice hitting is another, in addition to rule changes in enforcing penalties as well. There is a promising helmet design soon to be available from Tate Technology, headed by Jenny Morgan, that can dramatically reduce the force level of impact on the head. But notwithstanding preventive measures, concussions will occur in large numbers.

Dr. Jacob Van Landingham, who is associated with both the University of Florida and Florida State University, has developed a new technique to treat concussions and minimize the severity of the symptoms. His company, Prevacus, has a protocol that offers the NFL the opportunity to be a leader in solving the concussion crisis through treatment of the injury on the field, it moves the focus to treatment. Every other football or athletic injury is treated immediately, concussions need the same attention.

Prevacus offers a solution, it is the first field deliverable pharmaceutical treatment of concussion which is administered nasally, allowing more of the drug to reach the brain-injured sites. This drug begins treating the injury at the moment of impact by reducing swelling, inflammation and oxidative stress, so that the player can begin to recover faster. It limits the potential for the negative effects from concussion and repeat hits to the head.

With bigger, stronger and faster athletes colliding, the actual G force at the line of scrimmage has risen exponentially. Every time lineman hit it can create a low level sub-concussive event.

Many athletes have already experienced the symptoms of chronic traumatic encephalopathy, and more cases will be added soon. This dangerous syndrome creates a downward spiral in the athlete -- confusion, dementia, depression leading to loss of job, family and life. Prevacus is in the early stages of developing a drug to treat those with CTE.

There has been a degree of despair surrounding the concussion crisis. We are beginning to see talented researchers who would rather light candles than curse the darkness. More are needed. Next week I will write about Jenny Morgan and her helmet breakthrough. Prevacus, Tate Technology and other talented researchers are bringing hope.

HBO's Real Sports has covered the topic of violence against referees, but the program is taking another look it in its latest edition. Unfortunately, it's not to report that progress has been made. It's the opposite as another soccer referee was killed while working a match.

This troubling trend is documented in the episode that premieres Tuesday at 9 p.m. ET/PT. Here's a preview:

The dramatic circumstances of the Ray Rice and Adrian Peterson cases raise the issue of which aspects of an athlete's private life should be subject to public awareness and judgment. The lines between public and private have been blurred with the development of social media and cellphone technology. When an athlete leaves his home, every moment can be captured on a phone or tablet camera providing images and sound.

When Matt Leinart was quarterback for the Cardinals, he was relaxing in his own home in his private time when a jacuzzi photo of him and several woman was captured. That led to mistaken impression. These images can then be uploaded to the Internet and travel across the country.

Clearly when a law is broken, it becomes a public matter. Rice and Peterson broke laws and were arrested. This is a change from the "good old days" in sports when domestic violence and abusive parenting were kept in the closet and were never reported. That privacy victimized woman and children and kept them in peril; the legal system often re-victimized them. Both these cases created better awareness and spurred action toward prevention and swift punishment. This is a constructive aspect of celebrity driven media exposure.

Where is it appropriate to publicize athlete's private lives? Traditionally there have been different approaches to discipline in parenting. What is seen as abhorrent by some people is considered good parenting by others. Beating a toddler with a tree branch so that he is injured clearly crosses the line.

Is it fair to scrutinize the discipline when it falls short of violating a law? Certain athletes have fathered children with multiple mothers. Is this a behavior which should be publicized? There is no question that children parented by single mothers face challenges that others don't. Is it fair to single out those fathers for censure? Or is it nobody's business but the parents?

Donald Sterling said abhorrent and harmful things on a tape with his girlfriend. Few would disagree that harboring and expressing those thoughts should disqualify someone from NBA ownership. But is all private conversation fair game for exposure? Should anyone using a phone, or speaking in privacy be subjected to public scrutiny? If there was a method of recording someone's internal thoughts, should they be subject to public scrutiny? Hasn't virtually every person who has been angry or careless expressed themselves in a way that might hurt someone else's feelings, or offend someone if exposed?

There is a visceral reaction in this country toward the widespread tracking by the NSA of private phone calls. Fears of "1984" thought control and a police state were expressed. Celebrity media draws an audience and profits mightily from the most embarrassing activities and statements of their targets. Controversy sells. An intelligent discussion of which lawful behavior and speech should be considered public, is long overdue.

The Miami Marlins signed Giancarlo Stanton, who finished second in MVP voting this week, to a 13-year, $325 million contract. Stanton had an outstanding season in which he hit .288 with 37 home runs. He is 25 years old. He could be 37 when he finishes the contract. Is the practice of signing free agents, or extending current contracts for ten years or more a rational business and baseball decision?

MLB contracts are totally guaranteed for skill and injury. This means that even if the player’s productivity has dropped dramatically and the club no longer wants him at premium numbers, they are obligated to pay every last dollar through the final season. If a player becomes injured during the term of the deal and can never play again, the club must pay every remaining salary. So a team is taking a significant risk signing a player in this manner.

History shows that many players who are signed to these long term deals underperform at some point with years remaining on their contracts. Teams signing these players often look at past performance and project that same output from a player in the future. Realistically, time takes its inevitable toll on players. An everyday player will lose foot speed and bat speed and potentially strength. An aging pitcher will lose velocity. Because baseball does not involve direct collision as an inherent part of the game, like football, teams can underestimate the injury factor in baseball. But, older players are more susceptible to strains and pulls that keep them out of the lineup.

The Angels have learned some of these lessons the hard way. Albert Pujols, was once the most dangerous hitter in baseball. In the last four years with the Cardinals, his home run totals were 37, 47, 42 and 37. In his three years with the Angels, he has hit 30, 17 and 28. In his last four years with the Cardinals, his batting averages were .357, .327, .312 and .299. In his three years with the Angels he has hit .285, .258, and .272. Pujols is signed for seven more years at roughly $27 million a year, he will be 42 when the contract ends.

In his last year with Texas, Josh Hamilton hit .285 with 43 home runs and 128 RBI. In his two injury plagued seasons with the Angels, Hamilton batted .250 and .263. His home run totals were 21 and 10. His RBI totals were 79 and 44. His contract has three more years to run at salaries of $23 million, $30 million and $30 million. Owner Artie Moreno has been passionate about trying to assemble the most productive team possible, and has been a fan-friendly owner, but these signings illustrate the danger.

It is an intelligent strategy to take productive players who are younger and tie them up contractually with their team. When past performance motivates a team to sign a player to guarantees for years in which the player is likely to be diminishing dramatically on the field, it can be a major detriment to the franchise. New York Yankee fans will writhe in frustration just thinking about the years of A-Rod non-productive salaries ahead.

On January 26, 1996, Dave Schultz, Olympic gold medal winner and wrestling golden boy, was shot three times by du Pont family heir John E. du Pont at the famed Foxcatcher Farms estate in Pennsylvania. After the murder there was a tense standoff when du Pont barricaded himself in his home for two days before he was finally captured. Foxcatcher is gold medal winner Mark Schultz's memoir, revealing what made him and his brother champion and what brought them to Foxcatcher Farms. It's a vivid portrait of the complex relationship he and his brother had with du Pont, a man whose catastrophic break from reality led to tragedy. No one knows the inside story of what went on behind the scenes at Foxcatcher Farms -- and inside John du Pont's head -- better than Mark Schultz. Here is an excerpt.


January 26, 1996

"Hi, Coach!"

Dave smiled and waved as he stepped toward John du Pont's silver Lincoln Town Car coming to a stop in his driveway, "P.U. Kids" jotted in the palm of Dave’s right hand. It was my brother's day to pick up his two kids from school, and he had just finished repairing his car radio with a few minutes to spare.

Du Pont, rolling down his window, didn't return the greeting.

“You got a problem with me?” du Pont asked.

He didn't give Dave a chance to answer.

The first hollow-point bullet from du Pont's .44 Magnum revolver struck Dave's elbow -- perhaps he had raised his arms to cover himself -- and continued its spiraling path through his heart and into his lungs.

Dave cried out in pain and lunged forward, apparently hoping he could wrestle the gun away.

Right arm still extended, du Pont squeezed the trigger again. The second bullet entered Dave’s stomach and did not stop until it had exited through his back, pierced through the back window of Dave’s car, and shattered the front windshield.

Dave crumpled face-first onto the snow-covered driveway. His wife, who had been inside the house, started toward the front door after the first shot.

"John, stop!" Nancy shouted.

John, stepping out of his car, turned his gun toward her. She ducked back inside. John aimed the gun back at Dave as he crawled toward his car, a trail of red marking his path in the snow. The bastard shot my dying brother in the back.


My office phone rang. It was just another afternoon in the middle of wrestling season, spent opening mail and answering phone calls until my team's practice would begin shortly.

Until my dad called.

"Du Pont shot Dave and killed him."

I didn't hang up the phone; I threw it and screamed, grabbed the papers in front of me, and slung them against the wall. Notebooks and pens and anything else within reach followed. So did a clock and awards sitting on the file cabinet near my desk. I cursed loud enough for the highest heavens to hear.

Alone, I sat in the corner and sobbed for an hour until my assistant coach opened the door. I told him about my dad’s call, and he sat down and wept with me.

By that point, John du Pont -- heir to the du Pont family fortune and supposed best friend of amateur wrestling in the United States -- had taken refuge in his sprawling mansion. Police swarmed to the Foxcatcher Farm estate they knew so well. Some had trained at du Pont’s shooting range, which he had opened up to them. Some wore bulletproof vests and communicated on radios he had purchased for them.

Du Pont, ever taking advantage of his reputation as a philanthropist, had been hailed as a generous giver for all of his adult life.

But I knew better. I knew that he gave in order to take. John du Pont gave me the means to wrestle and then took my wrestling career from me. Now he had taken my brother from me.

The police, settling in for what would be a forty-eight-hour standoff, sent word warning me, even though I was more than two thousand miles from the scene, to stay away.

They were right to call me. I would have made one more trip to the farm if I had believed I had a chance of getting to John. And I would have killed him.

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