In the cultural imagination, no two things are more associated with the State of Texas than oil production and football. Texas tea and “Texas Forever”. As such, it’s scarcely a surprise that the Lone Star state would be responsible for someone like Johnny Manziel, who represents the very center of the Venn diagram between the two worlds: the son of an oil-rich family who has also written himself into Texas football lore before his 24th birthday. Should it be surprising, then, that both oil and Johnny Football are having very bad years?
If you thought the oil-led instability that is bringing the Russian economy to its knees was bad, you should take a peek at Johnny Manziel’s presence on TMZ, where he has been featured twelve times in the last month alone. Likewise, if you think oil’s precipitous slide from $110 per barrel to close to $30 since September 2013 is embarrassing, you should consider that the Cleveland Browns are poised to cut Manziel after only two controversy-ridden seasons, putting his football stock at Enron-esque levels.
This is all to bring up a crucial question: are Johnny Manziel’s off-field antics and subpar performance driving down the price of oil, or is Johnny, crestfallen upon seeing the price of his favorite commodity tumble, suffering as a result?
But what about Option C: “correlation does not necessarily point to causation, especially when dealing with these two completely unrelated trends?”
That wasn’t one of the choices. Now, let’s get into the data:
September 2013 – Peak Oil, Peak Johnny
When the price of oil peaked on September 6, 2013, at $110, the Texas A&M Aggies were about to put an extensive whooping on Sam Houston State to improve to 2-0 on the season, led by their defending Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback, none other than one Jonathan Paul Manziel. The Aggies, not a traditional powerhouse, were the #7 team in the country. It seemed as if it could go forever: gas would remain above $3 a gallon, Johnny would be doing this thing at the Super Bowl in a few years, and every frackable inch of land would be thoroughly and convincingly fracked (I do not know what fracking actually is).
Great time to be a Texan, all around. As we now know, this was the absolute apex of the Johnny/oil world. Things started going downhill the very next week, when Texas A&M wasted a 42-point offensive explosion against #1 Alabama at home, the first blow in what eventually became a disappointing four-loss season that ended in a bowl against Duke. They gave up 48 points to Duke in that game, by the way. Oil, meanwhile, did that stock-chart squiggling thing, but vaguely downward this time. Hmm.
May 2014 – The Beginning of the End
THIS is what has happened to the price of oil in the time since Johnny Manziel was drafted by the Cleveland Browns in the first round on May 8, 2014. THIS! You’d think OIL had been drafted by the Cleveland Browns, with the complete, unbridled failure it has become. There’s little I can say that would be more convincing than that image itself.
The only difference between the oil situation and the Johnny situation is that at least people saw the many red flags surrounding Johnny: his notorious hard partying, his lack of NFL size, the fact that Cleveland is where over a dozen quarterbacks have gone to fail this century alone. Sounds almost like oil was taking a hint from a certain somebody. Hmm.
February 2016 – Ewwwww
The apocalypse, of both oil and Johnny, is upon us. Gas is like, free, and Johnny Manziel has been to rehab, to the bench, questioned by cops on multiple occasions for domestic disputes, and most recently, caught in Vegas disguised so he could party undetected. Just like videos can be old, the idea that petroleum stocks were a sound investment strategy can be, as well, alas. The Browns are cutting Manziel, and oil’s freefall appears to have no end in sight. The lights, it seems, have gone off in Texas. As consolation, fans of fossil fuels and scrambling quarterbacks can only hope that the night is darkest before the dawn. What’s that sound? (galloping intensifies). Hold the phone…
Coming in 2016 – The Return
That’s Jerry Jones’s music. Guess who’s oil-rich? Jerry Jones. Guess who allegedly had to be physically restrained from drafting Johnny Manziel? Jerry Jones. Guess who has a history of signing players with well-established character issues? There he is! Guess what might be making a comeback in 2016? Oil!!! Guess who might be making a comeback in 2016? That’s right.
Jaime Alayon is a writer and the son of a Cuban oil baron. You should follow him on Twitter.