By Keysha Hogan
Are you a Johnny Manziel fan? We only ask because lately he’s been known more for arrests, drunken parties and scandals than his record-breaking 2012-13 performances.
Will he be able to turn a corner this season and put the off-field antics to rest? Or better yet, does he even care to remove his name from the negative spotlight? Watching a talent turn into a legend often is a difficult process that yields a debate from all corners of the sports world. But that doesn’t mean that the rise to greatness and fall from grace isn’t entertaining. Even we can admit to rooting for Scarface, knowing that things won’t end well.
But maybe we’re not actually talking about Manziel. The case can be made that the perpetrator of all this bad behavior actually is Johnny Football. Mr. Football is in the same league as Ziggy Stardust, Sasha Fierce and Lady Gaga. The story and the legend are built upon the alter ego. Manziel scores big on the field and is expertly guided by Texas A&M University head coach Kevin Sumlin, but Johnny Football annoys fan bases, picks fights on Twitter, and parties with Mark Cuban and the guys from Duck Dynasty.
Johnny Football is a name that evokes memories of the quarterback as a Captain America-type who has moxie and a moral code, not a punk kid who spends his time trolling rivals. In March of this year, a photo surfaced online of a shirtless Mr. Football wearing a henna TX Longhorns tattoo. A&M diehards weren’t happy, and even the most casual of UT’s fan wanted blood.
In June, Mr. Football starred in a music video for Granger Smith’s “Silverado Bench Seat.” He attempted a little satire and was featured signing autographs in what may be one of the most incriminating cameos ever. Later that month he discovered his new black Mercedes-Benz had been keyed, and proceeded to tweet: “Bull$#!* like tonight is the reason I can’t wait to leave College Station…whenever it may be.” The tweet was promptly deleted and followed with a declaration of love for A&M and asking us all to “…please, please walk a day in my shoes.” It may be difficult for you to keep reading while constantly rolling your eyes, but hang in there.
Starting with the new season Mr. Football has a golden opportunity to be the good guy. He was set to be a big star at the Manning Passing Academy where he was an advisor and coach to kids from around the country. But instead of playing the role of mentor, or at least faking it for some good press, he came late to practices and then just stopped showing up. Some say he was partying too much, others say he was sick, but the result was his expulsion from the program. And all those kids who were neglected by their hero had to watch as he showed up, on time, for the ESPY awards in Los Angeles.
At the beginning of last month, just one day before A&M opened camp, reports surfaced that Mr. Football was under investigation by the National Collegiate Athletic Association for receiving a flat fee for autographing hundreds of items back in January. Allegedly memorabilia broker Drew Tieman met with Mr. Football at his home in a closed-door meetingand paid him for services rendered. The next day Coach Sumlin and the A&M higher-ups made the executive decision that Mr. Football would not be making any statements to the press. And just like that Mr. Football is harnessed and Manziel is back on the field practicing with teammates, striving to have a another record-breaking season.
Now that Manziel is back, everything from this summer seems like actions of a cocky and childish adolescent who can’t juggle fame and responsibility. Unfortunately for him this investigation won’t fade away so easily. The NCAA is going to be rummaging through Manziel’s bank accounts looking for a paper trail to back up the claims. And remember the NCAA’s standard of proof is only “clear and convincing evidence,” there’s no room with them for reasonable doubt.
If found guilty, it’s likely he’ll be deemed ineligible and would miss quite a few games before he could be reinstated. This wouldn’t be the first time that the Manziel family would suffer public prosecution. Deadspin recently chronicled its past and it read like a mafia history built on cockfighting, match-fixing, big oil, cocaine-trafficking and murder. What’s a little autograph scandal when stacked up next to that?
The Aggies are betting on Southeast Conference and national championships this year. Millions will visit the expanded Kyle Field, and when they look to the field who will show up? For their sake, let’s hope Mr. Football is missing for awhile or baby faced junior Matt Joeckel may take his place.