Let Johnny Football Be Johnny Football
When a throng of 1,200 media types await your arrival and watch your every movement, no matter how big or small, you are definitely not the regular “Joe Some.” Welcome to the life of Texas A&M quarterback and 2012 Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel.
The common person would think at this week’s SEC media day Manziel would be answering questions about the last time he was on the football field setting bowl records at the AT&T Cotton Bowl against Oklahoma in January and how much has he improved. But the only thing anyone could ask him about was his world-wind summer and his incident at The Manning Passing Academy.
Manziel did something few athletes do these days regardless if they are on the college gridiron or the NFL. He took the situation head on by telling his side of the story like a man instead of having others do the cleanup.
“I was not asked to leave,” Manziel said, “It was a mutual decision. It was just a really busy schedule for the month of June and the month of July. I probably bit off more than I could chew.”
In my humble opinion, the only thing the 2012 Heisman winner is guilty of is living it up and basking in the spoils of having one of the most successful seasons in NCAA Football history. It has allowed him to do things most 20-year-olds only dream of which is live a VIP A-list lifestyle while still being in college.
Some of the sins of relishing his celebrity and his parent’s money, include court-side seats at an NBA game, which were in my section I might add, flying to Toronto to see and hangout with the hottest rapper in the world Drake, and a round of golf at Pebble Beach. All of which he refuses to apologize for. “I’m going to continue to live life to the fullest,” he says.
As a result, living this lifestyle comes with some negatives in the public opinion sector as he’s been caught hanging outside of a bar although he’s underage, aired indiscretions on Twitter, and according to most in the media, become a “Celebrity Quarterback”. Things like these definitely aren't a good look for Johnny Football but what most people are failing to realize they aren't felonies either.
So to Paul Finebaum who believes he’s “trending for a train wreck, all skeptical ESPN personalities, and all the media types who feel you have to be a certain way just because you win a prestigious award - just get over yourselves and let Johnny Manziel live his life like most 20-year-olds do.
The only people with a right to criticize this kid or discipline him for his wrong doings are his parents who raised him and his coach who gave him a full football scholarship to one of the best universities in the nation. At last check, Manziel’s only responsibilities these days are to be a great student-athlete first and to live a clean and fun college life second.
Manziel's coach, Kevin Sumlin, echoed Manziel's sentiment that he hoped fans would remember that he was a college student “trying to enjoy my life.” If Coach Sumlin who has a lot of stock invested in Manziel is cool with his lifestyle then we as fans and media types should be as well.
In the meantime, just sit back and enjoy the same kid who brought the Heisman to College Station with his outstanding 2012 season (5,116 total yards, 21 touchdowns rushing, 26 passing) while being the only quarterback to beat A.J. McCarron and Alabama Crimson Tide during their national championship of a year ago.
Some think Johnny Football is overrated and his rise to stardom is a fluke. I recently asked this same question to Texas Tech coach and Manziel’s Former Offensive Coordinator Kliff Kingsbury. “With his talent and having a better grasp of the offense combined with the guys they have coming back,” said a supportive Kingsbury, “I feel we will see an even better version of him on the field this season.”
My only advice to Johnny Football is to please keep doing your thing and to stay out of trouble by any means necessary so you can reach your full potential and silence your critics once again. Until then, I can’t wait for the season to kick off when we'll find out how Johnny Manziel, the defending Heisman winning quarterback, really is.
Kendrick Johnson is an independent sports television, radio, and print journalist. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @kendrickjohnso
The "Bench Mob" are articles that are posted from some of the best writers around. Giving you an all access tour of their opinions of sports.