Nationals

Manziel says he's trying to avoid 'same mistakes'

Manziel says he's trying to avoid 'same mistakes'

Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel of Texas A&M says he's learning every day about life as a celebrity.

The first freshman to win college football's top award said Thursday he was trying to avoid making ``the same mistakes again'' after a picture of him holding cash at a casino was posted to his Twitter account Saturday, a day after the Aggies beat Oklahoma in the Cotton Bowl. The picture was later removed.

Manziel responded to apparent criticism by tweeting, ``Nothing illegal about being 18+ in a casino and winning money.KEEP HATING!'' Speaking on a conference call to accept the Manning Award that goes to a top college quarterback after bowl season, Manziel said he wasn't growing weary of the scrutiny.

``I don't really pay attention to that stuff as much as some people do,'' said Manziel, who set SEC and Cotton Bowl records for total yards and helped the Aggies (11-2) to their best record since 1998. ``I've got to learn from it and move on and make sure I don't make some of the same mistakes again as far as the stuff I've been doing.''

Manziel was right about gambling being legal for anyone 18 or older at the WinStar casino, about an hour north of Dallas just across the state line in Oklahoma. It was a little murkier when the celebrity website TMZ posted a photo of the 20-year-old football sensation holding a champagne bottle at a Dallas club on Saturday night.

According to reports, Manziel showed up at the club hours after the Aggies' win in the Cotton Bowl on Friday and went back the next night. However, TMZ also reported that Manziel was accompanied by his mother, making it legal for him to drink. A club manager said nobody saw Manziel drinking.

Last summer - several months before the Johnny Football phenomenon took over college football - Manziel was arrested after police say he was involved in a fight and produced a fake ID. He started every game for the Aggies and ended up breaking Cam Newton's SEC record with 4,600 total yards before producing 516 more in a 41-13 victory over the Sooners at Cowboys Stadium.

``It's weird for me because life is changing,'' said Manziel, whose 5,116 total yards were the most for a Heisman winner. ``I'm still the same person I have been. I'm just learning something new every day and kind of trying to figure out stuff more and more as the days go on.''

Manziel, also the Davey O'Brien winner and the AP player of the year, was the first freshman to win the Manning Award, in its ninth year as a Sugar Bowl-sponsored tribute to the Manning family of quarterbacks.

Archie Manning, father of Super Bowl winners Peyton and Eli Manning, said he was surprised to learn from Manziel that he attended the Manning passing camp when he was in high school in the Central Texas town of Kerrville. He was quick to tell Manziel he had an open invitation to be a camp counselor.

``I can't say I know what he's going through, but he's handling everything extremely well,'' Manning said. ``If I could have any advice for him on this, he will continue to have it. He's a special young man and it's a special time in his life and he needs to enjoy it.''

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St. Louis therapy dog makes good on NLCS wager, reps Nationals gear

St. Louis therapy dog makes good on NLCS wager, reps Nationals gear

Friendly wagers are one of the best parts of sports. They're even more fun when they involve two very good boys. 

Thor, a black lab therapy dog from Cardinal Glennon Children's Hospital in St. Louis, Missouri, challenged Tabby, a German Shepherd therapy dog at Children's National Hospital in Washington, D.C., to a friendly bet on the Nats-Cardinals NLCS best of seven series. The bet was settled not too long after it began.

Since the Nationals swept the Cardinals, Thor had to wear a Nationals' bandana to work, courtesy of Tabby.

Thor does not look very amused, but at least he was a very good sport.

Hopefully, Thor will decide to cheer on the Nationals in their first-ever World Series against the Astros!

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The Redskins' inability to execute one of football's simplest plays is maddening and costly

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The Redskins' inability to execute one of football's simplest plays is maddening and costly

On the list of factors why the Redskins lost to the 49ers on Sunday, it's not as high up as Adrian Peterson's unfortunate second half fumble, Dustin Hopkins' early missed field goal or the passing game's immense struggles in some disgusting weather.

But Washington not being able to pick up a fourth-and-1 in the second quarter against San Francisco hurt quite a bit. Unfortunately, the Burgundy and Gold are seemingly incapable of executing one of the simplest plays in football, which prevented that 10-play drive from continuing and possibly prevented the game's end result from being different.

In recent seasons, when teams use a QB sneak on third- or fourth-and-1, they convert almost 90-percent of the time. When they opt to hand it off for an inside or outside zone run, meanwhile, they convert a little less than 70-percent of the time.

Yet against the Niners on that second quarter possession, Bill Callahan and Kevin O'Connell called for a Peterson run up the middle. Peterson was stuffed at San Fran's 29-yard line, ending what was one of their better chances at putting up points on a day where they'd ultimately be shut out.

Could that decision have been influenced by something that happened back in Week 3? It's possible.

In their Monday night matchup with the Bears, Case Keenum and the offense were trying to generate a late comeback and found themselves facing a fourth-and-1 at Chicago's 16. They were down 13 points and had seven minutes left. It was a long shot, yes, but they had a shot.

In that spot, thankfully, Jay Gruden and Co. chose to sneak it. However, Keenum tried to go over the top — which is basically an unheard of maneuver anywhere except the goal line — and he was stripped. It was a disastrous disaster.

Maybe that turnover affected the non-sneak versus the 49ers. Maybe it didn't. Either way, the Redskins botched a sneak once this year then went away from it in another key situation. It has now cost them twice already in seven contests. 

In case you forgot, here's a reminder: QB sneaks are successful almost 90-percent of the time when one yard is needed to move the chains. For some reason, Washington can't take advantage of those odds.

It's not exciting. It's not complex. But the QB sneak is as close to automatic as it gets in the NFL. The only thing more automatic these days, apparently, is the Redskins making the incorrect call when it matters most.

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