The sad part is that they might not be exaggerating at all.
Engel, who once called Terrelle Pryor a "college football terrorist" for accepting free tattoos, is now saying that Johnny Manziel is the NCAA's Rosa Parks.
Of course, there's only one reason Engel would ever make such a laughable comparison. Rosa Parks is an American hero who is known for taking a stand against segregation in the 1950s, risking her personal safety and well-being to demand equality for all.
Johnny Manziel, on the other hand, is a privileged college student who allegedly took some money to sign his name on some pieces of memorabilia, knowing that it was against NCAA rules and could cost him his eligibility.
Engel knew that by invoking Parks' name and making a nearly indefensible comparison, she would get attention and therefore generate web traffic to her columns.. Of course, she was right. As I type these very words, I'm playing right into her hands by giving here even the slightest bit of extra attention.
Throughout her entire column, she backpedaled from her original premise, showing exactly how Manziel is actually nothing like Parks, and their respective situations are not even remotely similar. In one sense, and in one sense only, they might be slightly similar, and Engel points that out: Manziel's case might be the tipping point that effects a change in the NCAA system, like Parks was the catalyst for change when she refused to sit in the back of the bus.
In that small way and that small way only, Manziel's situation is comparable to Parks. But Parks made a conscious choice to defy the powers that be, and she did it for the right reasons. She wanted equality for all, and was tired of literally taking a backseat to hatred and racism. Manziel, on the other hand, is just another college football player who wanted to benefit from his standing as a star football player.
In all honesty, what makes Manziel any different from former Ohio State QB Terrelle Pryor, whose "crimes" ranged from taking free tattoos to accepting money for car and cell phone payments?
The only difference between Manziel's paid autograph signings and Pryor's gratis tattoo sessions is the reaction of the public. Well... that, and the reaction of Jen Engel.
Only a few years before comparing Johnny Manziel to one of the primary figures in the American civil rights movement, here's what she had to say about Pryor:
Now that already affluent Johnny Manziel is getting $7,500 to scribble his name on a few pictures, apparently the Tiananmen Square comparison is suddenly valid. God forbid someone accept a tattoo worth a few hundred dollars. Perhaps that's too "thuggish" for Engel. A $7,500 autograph session, on the other hand, that's revolutionary, right Jen?
Engel stood by Roger Goodell's suspension of Pryor for 5 games, despite the fact that at the time, Pryor had not broken a single NFL rule, or done anything to reflect negatively on the NFL itself.
Despite the fact that they (allegedly) violated the same rules, Engel refers to Pryor as a college football terrorist, and unapologetically canonizes Manziel.
Perhaps it's that Manziel plays in Texas, where Engel is from. Perhaps it's the lighter pigmentation of his skin that makes him a more sympathetic figure. No matter what it is, it's inconsistent and unfair.
I agree that the NCAA's rules are ridiculous. I think they should change. I think the players are getting an extremely unfair shake, while the NCAA makes billions off of them.
But does that make Johnny Manziel a hero?