The Odyssey of Johnny Manziel: What Have We Learned?
The legend of Johnny Football began on November 10, 2012 in a game against the Alabama Crimson Tide. In that game Johnny Manziel accounted for 345 of Texas A&M’s 418 yards, had 2 passing touchdowns and pushed himself to the forefront of the Heisman race with a thrilling 29-24 win against the Tide, who were the #1 team in the country. Since then he broke all types of SEC records (4600 total yards, which surpassed
Jesus Tim Tebow and Cam Newton), became the first freshmen in NCAA history to throw for 3000 yards and rush for 1000 yards in a single season, beat Oklahoma in the Cotton Bowl and oh yeah became the first freshmen to ever win the prestigious Heisman trophy award. Unfortunately, because A&M head coach Kevin Sumlin doesn’t allow his freshmen players to speak to the media, the public got to know Johnny Football before we really got know Johnny Manziel. Since the football season ended here is what we have learned about Johnny Manziel in the past 11 months.
- He likes watching NBA games up close and personal
- He has a love-hate relationship with the school he attends…. And sometimes he tweets about it
- He probably drinks more alcohol than a 20 year old should
- He has friends that include Rick Ross, 2 Chainz, and Drake
- He enjoys his beauty sleep
- He signs a lot of things…And doesn’t get paid for it….But maybe he does?
Let’s focus on this last bit. The autograph investigation has kind of been the culmination in the summer of Johnny Football. On one side according to NCAA Bylaw 126.96.36.199 student-athletes are prohibited from accepting money for promotion or sale of a product or service. If you just look at this rule (and the NCAA in general) at face value it makes perfect sense. The student in ‘student-athlete’ should always come first and accepting money based on your athletic merit while still enrolled in college will take away from that. But then…….Remember that the NCAA is a money making machine that grossed $871.6 million in 2012 alone and signed an 14 year $11 billion TV deal with CBS and Turner Sports for the TV for the NCAA Men’s basketball tournament. Since 2010 college football has routinely made over $1 billion in revenue with universities like Texas, Georgia and Florida making over $50 million in profit.
For me, here is where the case of Johnny Manziel differs. See those schools I mentioned above are college football powerhouses. Between those 3 teams you can find 12 national titles and 7 Heisman winners. Texas A&M can’t say they’ve won an outright championship since 1939. Manziel brought the Aggies into mainstream relevancy (and did so after they moved from the Big 12 to the SEC) and according to various reports, last season the Aggies made $37 million just from the media exposure brought on by the freshmen.
So you’re Johnny Manziel….You’re a freshmen….. You just won the biggest award that college football can give you….You’re making your university all of this money……So maybe….Just maybe……Johnny Football takes over and Johnny Manziel hangs back in the shadows.
Alter egos of course can be tricky. At some point the masked/super-hero persona can overcome the regular guy. Remember in the super crappy movie Spider-Man 3, when Tobey Maguire got that stupid haircut, danced in the street and sexually harassed women. Alter egos can be douche-y and arrogant, but we tolerate them because the good outweighs the bad. Look at all the great athletes in history. Michael Jordan by most accounts was a terrible teammate in his first few years in the league, but we tolerated him because; 1. No social media that would’ve exposed that behavior, and 2. He was so great you had to accept it. Now is Manziel on the same level as MJ? Of course not, but it goes to show that questionable behavior is put aside when it comes to people with great talent.
Of course everything came to a head when news came out the NCAA was investigating Manziel for possible rules violations when he was allegedly signing autographs for money. Of course this is seen as a big no-no in the world of college sports. If found guilty we would have probably seen the last of Johnny Football in college football. Of course the NCAA then proceeded to suspend him for the 1st half in Texas A&M’s season opener against Rice (a game that the Aggies won 52-31).
So throughout all this what have we really learned? On the one hand, maybe Johnny Manziel is really the self-entitled punk, who comes from a wealthy family and has had everything handed to him since he was a young kid. But maybe he is the exemplary teammate, humble, and good kid that his coaches, teammates and family says he says….Either way…. The saga of Johnny Football is at least partially our fault. We…(YES THE PUBLIC) adored him all last year and the first sign of him not being the all-around great person we wanted him to be, we turned on him. It’s not a new story….The public can be very fickle when it comes to people in the public eye. We kind of enjoy watching trainwrecks and poking fun at them while they’re happening, it’s just human mentality. So this Saturday when Manziel and the Aggies take the field against Alabama (easily the most hyped game of the college football season) whether you love Johnny Football or hate him….Just know you’re going to tune in to watch the show.