Christian Ponder sails a pass that would glance off the fingertips of a leaping Manute Bol.
And this kid enters my mind.
Josh Robinson helplessly trails a receiver who runs downfield with the ball during another defensive meltdown.
And I think of him.
Aaron Rodgers finds a sixth-string Packers receiver wide open against clueless Vikings coverage to convert a third-and-19.
And his highlights flicker in my brain.
The pocket collapses immediately and the Minnesota quarterback, whoever he is this week, goes down for a loss.
And I daydream about a 20-year-old dude.
It's Johnny Football.
If a comic-strip artist could sketch the thought bubbles over my head during Minnesota Vikings games, they would be filled, first, with unpublishable vitriol and, second, with images of what it might be like for the team to employ a young, difference-making quarterback who can compensate for the franchise's myriad deficiencies.
Johnny Football is the solution. Not Teddy Bridgewater. Not Marcus Mariota.
Johnny Football, dammit.
What's that, you say? One player can't quickly solve the embarrassment of poorness that plagues the 2013 Vikings?
Well, if that's what you believe, you are as foolish as a GM who would line the pockets of an average offensive lineman instead of paying Antoine Winfield for one last season.
Have you seen Johnny Football play?
Johnny Manziel might look scrawny and act like a punk, but he appears to have the kind of transcendent talent and bulletproof confidence that can infect teammates and keep any game winnable.
For goodness sake: the kid was whistling on the sideline in the middle of a shootout against a defense (Alabama's) devised by a preeminent guru (Nick Saban) who had been fixated on stopping him (to no avail) for nine months. And, after barely beating the volatile wunderkind, Saban wore the look of a man who just ate a bag of bad chalupas.
Manziel, all 5-foot-11, 210 pounds of him, might not fit the ideal mold for NFL quarterbacks, but the Vikings have a pair of those prototypes - the mobile, brainy Ponder and the cannon-armed, statuesque Josh Freeman - who have inspired nothing but nacho-throwing disgust by the disturbed people who sit at home and root for the Purple.
What's that, you say? This cocky kid could implode off the field and damage the franchise into the foreseeable future?
Seems to me, Manziel - who, let's remember, still hasn't legally drank a beer - has done OK inside and outside the lines this season after his high-profile summer of partying and sleeping late and practicing his autograph and tweeting about leaving Texas A&M.
And let me ask you this, Vikings fans: How much worse can it get for us?
Some unnecessary reminders: Four Super Bowl losses, Gary Anderson's miss, 41-bagel, The Love Boat, 12 Men in the Huddle, Jenn Sterger, Ponder in the Pocket ...
How much more frustration could a frat-boy quarterback add to the pile of pain we've endured?
If the Vikings are lucky enough to win the No. 1 pick in the 2014 NFL Draft, the risk needs to be taken. They need to pick Manziel. Not Bridgewater. Not Mariota. Not some combine golden boy.
Manziel represents everything they need at quarterback and everything they have lacked in a sustaining capacity for decades. Here is what he can provide:
Remember a few weeks ago when Ponder was renamed the starter because Freeman got concussed during a mind-numbing loss to the pathetic Giants? Remember how Ponder said that his time on the bench taught him that he needs to be a more take-charge leader?
Well, that's not something an NFL quarterback should have to try to be. It should come naturally.
Manziel emanates that type of an inborn aura.
Call him arrogant, flippant, whatever. He exudes confidence, and that rubs off on teammates. And that is a good thing. Don't worry about how his 'tude might cause problems; worry about wins. Those are all that matter.
The last so-called franchise quarterback who wore horns and flaunted a semblance of moxie was Daunte Culpepper. But much of his positive mien was derived from the opportunity to chuck it deep to Randy Moss and the simplicity of that outlet.
We saw what happened to Culpepper after No. 84 was traded and the defenses suddenly became more complex.
One gets the feeling that Manziel can "get his roll on" independent of who lines up with him (assuming, of course, the coaches adjust the offense to suit his capabilities - an assumption that, with the current crew, is quite a bit larger than Bill Musgrave's playcard.)
Manziel plays with the kind outward passion we last saw when Grandpa Favre was dialing up long balls to Sidney Rice, then racing downfield to tackle his dread-locked teammate in the end zone.
OK, maybe Manziel's finger-rubbing "Money" celebration rubs you the wrong way ... but, well, sorry. That's the kind of cojones I'm looking for.
With Adrian Peterson getting older, the Vikings will need a big personality - a character, even - to help carry them through the next couple of seasons and into the new stadium. Johnny Football seems to thrive on attention (good or bad), which happens to be heaped on NFL starting quarterbacks. In this intense age of overexposure, Manziel is readily equipped for the blinding spotlight.
He can handle pressure, even if he pops off on Twitter every now and then. Big deal.
They need an updated face of the franchise, particularly at QB - even if that face still has acne or annoys some fans on sight.
Oregon's Mariota is a great college player. He is a toned-down Manziel who runs a similar offense at Oregon. But he doesn't seem like a character who could handle getting hitched with an entire franchise's expectations as soon as he walks into his first press conference at Winter Park.
Forget the fact that Manziel probably already reads defenses better and throws more accurately than Ponder. (You saw that 95-yard TD pass he threw to Mike Evans after looking off the safety against Alabama, right?). His biggest value could be his Tarkenton-like escapability.
If the Vikings stick with the core of this current offensive line, comfort is not something the team's quarterback will usually be afforded. When plays break down, Manziel buys time to find open teammates or scrambles for meaningful gains. Yes, Ponder does the latter, too - but the difference is he tucks and runs like a convenience-store shoplifter, whereas Johnny scans while moving, keeping alive the threat of a pass before taking what he can get on his own.
This style of play, while no doubt dangerous for a smaller QB like Manziel, is bound to become even more meaningful with the sad state of the Vikings defense, which will only worsen with the expected defections of Jared Allen and Kevin Williams this offseason.
Point being, Minnesota's defense will probably continue putting the team in holes, which emphasizes the need for a quarterback who can produce when Peterson is rendered less important by early and wide deficits.
The Vikings need a guy who can move and create when opposing pass rushers have their dander up.
The Vikings don't need Bridgewater, who, as a pocket passer, is too close to the NFL norm.
They need something different at QB. They need flair. They need extreme mobility. They need a name with brand appeal.
They need Johnny Football, dammit.