I don’t normally write sports-related columns in this space as it’s been oh-so-many years since my days as a sports writer. I manage to pass over steroid abuse in the bigs, the latest stupid thing to come out of a millionaire athlete’s mouth and even the frustrations of being a life-long Cowboys fan.
But thanks to Johnny Football my streak has died an untimely death.
Johnny Manziel, aka Johnny Football, is, to those who don’t know, the quarterback for Texas A&M. He is the best player to don Aggie colors in many a moon, and some will go so far as to say ever. I would agree with that.
Johnny Football shot to fame last season, his freshman year, working magic on the field and even leading the Aggies to an upset of No. 1-ranked Alabama that set off massive crowd celebrations in College Station. The fans loved him, the students loved him and the school loved him. Even the Heisman voters loved him as he became the first freshman in history to win the Heisman trophy.
But the love affair began to unravel a bit when strange stories started leaking out of College Station. Manziel started off on the wrong foot when he got involved in a bar fight near campus and then did not identify himself to police before he had even won the starting job. In fact, Manziel, not yet Johnny Football, had two fake IDs on his person when arrested. Oh, and who can forget the infamous topless mug shot of him floating around the internet?
In spring practice of this year, he throws three picks and when a defensive graduate assistant jumps up and down in celebration Manziel shoves him and sets off an altercation with the two having to be broken up.
In June, he is given a parking ticket for parking the wrong way outside his house and tweets about how much he wants to leave College Station. He then deletes the tweet and invites followers to walk a day in his shoes. Please.
In July, Manziel is sent home from the Manning Passing Academy, an uber-prestigous quarterback camp put on by the Manning family — including Payton and Eli. According to reports, Manziel was too busy partying the night before to meet his obligations, being late for some assignments and missing others. He claimed he was ill. His father claimed he was dehydrated. Please.
Not wanting anyone to think he is a genius, Manziel then proceeds over to the Aggies’ hated rival, the University of Texas in Austin, and gets kicked out of a frat party. Undaunted, our hero finds another frat party at which to get sloshed.
And now this: Manziel is under NCAA investigation for accepting a five-figure fee for signing hundreds of autographs. Profiting from autographs while in college will not just get you suspended for a few games, it can get you booted out of football for a full season or more.
I’m not an Aggie fan, I’ll say that much up front. However, I have plenty of friends who are, plus I’m a fan of football in Texas in general so I’m interested in what’s happening in College Station. The problem with Johnny Football is that he simply acts like a spoiled brat, which isn’t too surprising considering he comes from oil money and his father is the stereotypical overindulgent sports parent. Who else would claim with all this that the school isn’t protecting their son from the NCAA? Did the school tell him to accept money for autographs? I’m pretty sure they didn’t. Did the school endorse him going to UT frat parties? I’m sure they didn’t. Did the school suggest he get into a bar fight with a fake ID in his pocket? I’m sure they didn’t.
What I found most troubling about the whole story is the family dynamic. An excellent ESPN piece chronicled time spent with the family and let’s just say the apple doesn’t fall too far from the tree. Apparently, in the Manziel’s world, it’s normal to have beers with your underage son at the golf course. You know, the underage son who has been seeking counseling for his alcohol problem…
I believe at the bottom of it all is an exceptional athlete who knows what he is and, frankly, doesn’t care about others. He doesn’t seem to really go out of his way to help others, he’s in it for the good times. Yes, I know he’s only 20, I read it from his defenders over and over. But there are 20-year-olds defending this country every day. Being young doesn’t excuse his behavior, but I’m afraid being a great quarterback just might.