CLEVELAND, OH (WOIO) - I thought back to one of my favorite films, "All the President's Men" today, after a couple of my colleagues described Johnny Manziel's answers concerning a certain party video that made the rounds on Monday as a 'non denial denial'.
That phrase was coined by the late, great Ben Bradlee, the former Washington Post editor, who was describing the powers-that-be in the White House during the Watergate scandal of the early 70's.
Of course, we're not talking about the President of the United States here, or bringing down an administration. We're talking about an NFL quarterback who likes to party.
The thing is, Johnny had a chance to bury the report that claimed he was drinking from a bottle of Dom Perignon at an Austin nightclub during the bye week by simply saying that the video can't be recent, because he wasn't doing that last week.
Instead, Manziel said this:
"Videos can be old, videos can be all kinds of different things. Like I said, I'm not in a state to be able to speak on it".
Really? Why not? Either he was crushing drinks at a club back home in Texas last week, or he wasn't. Seems like a pretty straightforward question.
Instead, he went with the ol' non denial denial, in which the interviewee speaks around the issue, insinuating that it's not true, but never actually says it's not true, because, you know, that could come back to haunt him.
It certainly won't haunt Johnny at a Nixon-esque level, nor should it. It may be a bad look for Manziel, and it may appear to violate whatever after-care program he should be in following rehab (and, oh yeah, it may certainly leave his head coach in Berea shaking
his head once again), but it's not a crime.