As it turns out, being college football’s best quarterback (and perhaps best player) at the age of 20 isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.
It’s been the summer of Johnny Manziel. From Twitter blunders to videos of frat parties, the sophomore quarterback for the Texas A&M Aggies can’t find his way out of the media spotlight. The young up-and-coming football star now known as Johnny Football has attracted plenty of negative attention recently, with many talking heads calling his character into question. I’m not going to sit here and say he’s an angel, but can’t we just let Johnny Football be Johnny Football for a while? The guy is 20 years old, enjoying college and a national football phenomenon. What’s wrong with a little fun?
Seemingly out of the blue, Manziel led the Aggies to an 11-2 season. I say “out of the blue” because it was Texas A&M’s first season in the Southeastern Conference, and everybody thought it would take the Aggies a century or so to be good in college football’s greatest conference. So the freshman Manziel took an SEC single-season record of 5,116 total offensive yards and 47 touchdowns – on his way to becoming the first freshman in college football to win the Heisman Trophy.
Prior to taking the national spotlight as college football’s best player last season, Manziel was just like many other college students. He was arrested for getting into a fight last summer. He had a fake I.D. This news wasn’t blown up because he wasn’t that well-known. But then he goes ahead and wins the Heisman Trophy, and that kind of behavior no longer goes unnoticed. It’s a clash of two worlds. Young 20-year-old college student versus expectations for a Heisman Trophy winner.
With more than 350,000 followers on his Twitter account and more than 3,500 tweets to his name, Manziel started his 2013 offseason in style, shocking Aggie nation with a tweet stating the fact that he couldn’t wait to get out of College Station.
“Bullshit like tonight is the reason why I can’t wait to leave College Station…whenever it may be,” Manziel tweeted. While he quickly deleted that post, it was up long enough for at least some of his 350,000 followers to read it.
As it turns out, according to one report, Manziel was really pissed off because of a parking ticket he’d received while he was out fishing. The tweet was a reflex after getting burned on some trumped-up parking ticket in a college town. We all know how that feels, and it sucks. The problem here was that he didn’t count to 10 before sending that tweet out to the masses. Had he counted to ten, he probably wouldn’t have had that tweet broadcasted and his Texas A&M loyalty questioned. (He should have just stuffed the ticket in his glove box and forgot about it like all good college kids do. I remember my parents’ reaction to my parking ticket bill…).
Anyway, so Johnny Football has a foot-in-mouth problem with Twitter. Then, working as a counselor for the Manning Passing Academy camp in early July, he leaves the camp early because of dehydration and illness. Of course, one report says Johnny Football was released from the camp because he was hung over – a report Manziel denied, saying he was ill. Regardless, it led to another media blowup, where even Peyton Manning had to stick up for Manziel.
“I can remember a 20-year-old Eli [Manning] missing a meeting and catching some flak,” Manning said in a statement released to profootballtalk.com after Manziel left the camp early. “We always have counselors who leave early. Johnny was great with the campers for the time he was here. He had to leave early. I wish him the best and I want him to come back as a counselor next year.”
There’s no way I believe Johnny Football just came up ill at the football camp. With New Orleans so close, he probably went and had one too many hurricanes with some friends. Peyton knows what happened. He’s been there before. Waking up with a hurricane hangover is no laughing matter.
So the latest Johnny Football incident came last weekend when he was apparently kicked out of a University of Texas frat party. There is one gritty YouTube video showing Manziel, in a pink shirt, getting kicked out of the party, with lots of vulgar language, and beers being thrown. I do question his smarts for being at that party, at the school of his bitter in-state rival. For Texas football fans, this simply doesn’t work. You can’t fraternize with your enemies. Manziel was stupid for going to that party in the first place (plus that party looked pretty dumb anyway). Burnt orange everywhere. Puke.
I will, however, give Johnny Football credit for not getting into a fight, like most college students would have, at that moment. He would have gotten his ass kicked, been embarrassed, arrested – and probably benched next season, if he’d thrown a punch. Good on him for not fighting those Longhorn jackasses, but really, he should stick to his own Aggie kind. He may be popular, but he’s not that popular.
I like this kid Johnny Football. He’s a national football phenomenon, trying to be a 20-year-old college student. He still has lessons to learn, while he’s providing a lesson to all other young wannabe Heisman Trophy winners. You win it young, you are going to have to change your lifestyle, regardless of what you want to do. I expect Manziel will enter the NFL as soon as possible, so he can get away from the media’s consistent judging of what a college player should and shouldn’t do.
Yes, Manziel could go home every night at 5 p.m. to study tape, do pushups and eat all his vegetables. Or he could go get rowdy in New Orleans for a night. I prefer the guy who spent the night in New Orleans, but that’s just me.