March 27, 2014 Leave a comment
By Mark Yost
The Houston Business Journal
Former President George W. Bush and Texas Gov. Rick Perry will take in Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel’s pro day on March 27 in College Station. So will the Houston Texans. Regardless of his performance, the question on every Houstonian’s mind is this: Will the Texans make the player nicknamed Johnny Football the No. 1 pick in the NFL draft on May 8?
Texans and Aggies fans will have to wait to find out. But what does the Houston business community think about the player who famously said he wanted everyone to want him on the team, from Texans owner Bob McNair to the janitor.
Houston’s business community seems divided along two lines:
There’s no business case to draft Manziel because the Texans have a 24,000-person season-ticket waiting list and, despite an abysmal 2-14 season in 2013, Texans PSLs continued to appreciate.
Then there’s this — forget the business model, he’s the most exciting player in football.
John Grayson, a principal in Cokinos, Bosien & Young, and a 1980 A&M grad, is in the latter camp.
“Forget height, weight, stats and all that other stuff. In terms of competitiveness, natural ability and pure excitement, there is nobody like Johnny,” he said. “Of course the Texans should draft him. Big mistake if they don’t.”
Grayson’s boss, Greg Cokinos, is also in the “draft Manziel” camp.
“The Texans need a quarterback, so lets get the best one,” he said. “He is a Texan, born, bred and raised. How on God’s green earth could we pass on all that?” Cokinos said.
Dan Bass, managing director of investment banking at Performance Trust Capital Partners and University of Texas at Austin grad of ’86, is in the camp that thinks Manziel was great in college, but there’s “too much downside risk” to draft a player who barely stands 6-foot-1 into the NFL, where linemen average about 350 pounds.
Bass, always focused on key mergers and acquisitions in Houston, also doesn’t see the business case for making Manziel a Houston Texan.
“It isn’t like you need to draft him to sell tickets to the Aggie faithful,” he said. “Ticket sales aren’t a problem.”
Chris Begala of media relations and PR frim Begala McGrath said drafting Maziel would be the “most exciting and significant selection by any Houston pro sports franchise,” ranking up there with the Houston Oilers making Earl Campbell the No. 1 draft pick in 1978 and the Rockets drafting Hakeem Olajuwon in 1984.
“Drafting Johnny Football would send a charge through the entire state of Texas, not just Houston,” Begala said. “The Texans would elevate themselves throughout the nation as Johnny Football Texans jersey sales would instantly reach top five.”
Lane Clelland, a financial advisor at JEB & Co, perhaps has a little more authority to speak on the subject. He played football for Notre Dame from 2008-12.
“I think he’s going to do well,” Clelland said. “I think he’s going to surprise some people and could be a good pickup for the Texans.”
While most everyone had something to say about Manziel, Trevor McGinnis, a CPA at Fitts, Roberts and a Texans season ticket holder since 2002, was very succinct.
“Do not draft him,” he said.