COLLEGE STATION, Texas -- Johnny Manziel's decision to wear a helmet and shoulder pads for his pro-day workout Thursday was, to say the least, unconventional. But for Manziel, it was an easy choice and one that he felt was important in wanting to show NFL coaches and scouts that he was willing to set up more of a challenge for himself.
"You play the game in football pads. You play the game in shoulder pads on Sundays," Manziel said. "Why not come out here and do it? I've never understood why (pro-day workouts without pads) was a trend. For me it was a no-brainer. We came out to treat this as a business day. To treat this as a game day."
Said Houston Texans general manager Rick Smith, whose team holds the No. 1 overall pick: "I've never seen than done before, and it didn't seem like it affected him negatively."
His performance was certainly none the worse for it, completing 61 of 64 passes and wowing the assembled crowd with a few deep passes that hit receivers right in stride. He began the workout with some shorter throws to get into rhythm, and eventually showed a wide variety of drops, rollouts, and play-action, throwing a number of different routes. Perhaps his decision to do so in half pads was summed up best by his private quarterback coach, George Whitfield.
"He had asked me about it before the combine. He wanted to know what the teams respect. I told him they respect challenges," Whitfield said. "You get to create your own test, you can make it a spelling bee, or you can make it a calculus exam. ... Let's make it as challenging and uphill as possible so it's sweeter at the back end."
Shoulder pads certainly wouldn't qualify as a calculus exam, given the other favorable variables (uncovered receivers, etc.), but it nevertheless made something of a statement to the NFL personnel men on hand that Manziel's plan wasn't just about looking good.
It was about being good.