Winning the Heisman trophy in December was the perfect ending to Johnny Manziel’s 2012 campaign — one of the most impressive freshman seasons in college football history.
Yet it was just the beginning to one of the most memorable, disappointing offseasons ever.
As Manziel’s future college eligibility remains in question in the aftermath of a report that the Texas A&M quarterback accepted money for signing memorabilia, I will look to backtrack the summer of Manziel with the help of a USA Today’s article recently written on their website.
January: Following A&M’s Cotton Bowl win over Oklahoma, he visited the Winstar Casino in Oklahoma for some late-night gambling. He tweeted a photo, which went viral on the web, with friends flashing money. In response to backlash from the photo, Manziel tweeted, “Nothing illegal about being 18+ in a casino and winning money…KEEP HATING!” The night after winning big, he was spotted by TMZ popping bottles of champagne in a Dallas-area club.
February: Celebrated Mardi Gras in New Orleans and posed for a pictures with Ole Miss linebacker Denzel Nkemdiche and Hollywood celebrities Justin Timberlake and Jessica Biel.
March: Shoved a graduate assistant in frustration after throwing an interception during a spring football scrimmage.
— Was photographed with a fake tattoo of Texas A&M’s archrival Texas Longhorns on a spring break trip to Cabo San Lucas.
June: Tweeted and subsequently deleted, “(Expletive) like tonight is a reason why I can’t wait to leave College Station…whenever it may be.” Followed that up by tweeting, “Don’t ever forget that I love A&M with all my heart, but please, please walk a day in my shoes.” It was later revealed that the anger stemmed from a parking ticket.
— Was featured in the video for country artist Granger Smith’s song “Silverado Bench Seat”.
July: Left the Manning Passing Academy after missing meetings. Manziel apologized at SEC Media Days, saying: “I simply overslept. There’s nothing more to talk, and the rumors about the other things weren’t really true.” Peyton Manning later defended Manziel, saying he wanted him back next year.
— Pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor stemming from a 2012 bar fight in College Station. Manziel admitted to failure to identify. Other charges against him, including disorderly conduct, were dismissed.
— Was photographed attending parties at University of Texas fraternities.
— Manziel’s parents expressed their worry for their son in an ESPN story. It is revealed that Manziel underwent alcohol counseling and therapy for anger issues.
August: The day before Texas A&M’s first practice, ESPN’s Outside The Lines reported that Manziel agreed to sign memorabilia in exchange for a “five-figure flat fee” during a trip to the site of the BCS National Championship.
Now you see, what bothers me the most about you fans that defend Manziel and say “the kid is still young and let the guy live his life” is that may be true, but Manziel is not like any other college student-athlete. Here are some reasons why his actions are intolerable:
1. When you play for a collegiate team in any sport, you take an oath as a player that you won’t, in any way, harm the reputation of your team. What Manziel has done this past offseason has not only harmed his team, but also put his own name bigger than the logo that is on his helmet, which is a sign of immaturity from his part.
2. For goodness sakes the guy is a Heisman Trophy winner. The award is one of the most prestigious in all of sports, let alone college football. You think former Heisman Trophy winners would like to see this sophomore running around making decisions like he is a chicken with his head cut off? How about the voters that select the winner? You think a player’s character doesn’t play a huge role for the voters when they decide who should be the Heisman Trophy winner? I know if I voted, I would definitely take that into consideration.
3. You are the quarterback of your team. The quarterback is suppose to be the captain, the general, the guy that takes all the blame even when its not his mistake. Manziel is forced to take all the blame these days because it is his actions that are causing all of this stir around him, and his team for that matter.
4. Your family. Plain and simple, no matter how old you are, you will always be a symbol of your family. As much as you may not want to believe this, but your own decisions can and most likely will, affect the decisions of your family. The fact that his parents can go on ESPN and express their concerns with their son is somewhat disturbing if you asked me. How can Texas A&M trust a guy to lead them to a national championship when his parents can’t even trust him to act right outside of the football field? Or worse, how do you expect an NFL team to draft you and trust when you have all this unnecessary attention surrounding you?
5. Last but not least, for those of you who think it is the media’s fault for all the attention Johnny Manziel is getting, you’re wrong. The guy brought this upon himself. You don’t go out tweeting photos of yourself with cash in your hand and expecting journalists to not cover whats going on, when that is their job to do so. You don’t also go out tweeting that you can’t wait to leave your college hometown and expect journalists not to cover that story either, again, it’s our jobs. It’s our jobs as journalists to cover a story about a reigning Heisman Trophy winner missing a passing camp because he “overslept.” Anything that the public wants to hear about is newsworthy, and just in case you haven’t noticed, but we kind of like this Manziel guy, a lot.
What’s being loss in all of this ruckus is that Texas A&M, ranked number 6 in the USA Today’s poll, had a legitimate shot at winning the National Championship this year. But with all the non-football talk in College-Station now and days, I believe it will be hard for the Aggies to accomplish such a task.
I believe Manziel needs to take out a page in Alabama’s quarterback, and 3-time BCS Championship winner, A.J. McCarron’s book on how to handle all the hype surrounding him. McCarron may have not won a Heisman Trophy, but sure as heck had a lot to do with he last two championships the best team in college football has had. And, lets not forget he is also dating Miss Alabama, to add to all the hype.
I know it may sound like I’m rooting against the guy, but I honestly think Manziel was the greatest thing to watch last year in college football. But being a great athlete, comes with greater responsibilities.
Follow me on Twitter: @MrOT3