Manziel’s ‘Heis’... and lows
Manziel’s ‘Heis’... and lows, You wonder, as the 2013 college football season draws near, if the Legend of Johnny Football will grow to epic proportions, or if we are watching a runaway train leave College Station, Texas.
Last season, Johnny Manziel became the first freshman to win the Heisman Trophy. The Texas A&M quarterback made plays that were part Johnny Rodgers, part Mikhail Baryshnikov.
For 30-plus minutes, he made Alabama’s defense — Alabama! — look like a swarm of bees that had lost its queen. Let’s not forget ’Bama’s defense had four players taken in the first five rounds of the NFL Draft, including the Jets’ No. 1 pick, Dee Milliner.
Heisman jinx? Not for Manziel. He accounted for 516 yards and four touchdowns in Texas A&M’s blowout of Oklahoma in the Cotton Bowl.
Since then Johnny Football has been Johnny Fumble — not a harrowing Earnest Byner fumble, not even an embarrassing Mark Sanchez buttfumble.
The fumbles have been the self-recovered ones that occur in the middle of a drive and stop the heart for a half beat. They make you wonder — as good as this guy is, can he be trusted?
Because football is all about trust. And this is the first time “Manziel” and “trustworthy” might have been used in the same sentence since the Cotton Bowl.
Several months earlier, he was arrested for three misdemeanors, pled guilty to one and was fined $2,000.
After that win over Oklahoma, Manziel was spotted partying in a private area of a Dallas night club. He was 20 at the time. The legal drinking age in Texas is 21.
“It’s tough knowing that everything you do is watched pretty closely because I’m doing the same stuff I’ve always done,’’ Manziel said days after photos of that night hit the Internet.
Doing the same stuff he’s always done. Hmm.
Then Manziel posted a picture of himself on Twitter, holding a wad of cash.
“Nothing illegal about being 18+ in a casino and winning money ... KEEP HATING!”
So if you question Johnny Manziel’s actions, you’re a hater? Hmm.
Over the summer Manziel got a parking ticket on campus.
“Bull---- like tonight is the reason why I can’t wait to leave College Station ... Whenever it may be,” he tweeted.
So if Manziel doesn’t get preferential treatment, it’s bull. Hmm.
Last week Manziel was sent home from the 2013 Manning Passing Academy after he missed assigned meetings and practice sessions. Manziel said he overslept.
When asked if he missed the commitments because he was hungover, Manziel said, “Absolutely not!” But when asked if he had been drinking at the camp, Manziel declined to go into detail.
“I’m 20 years old,” he Tweeted. “I’m still a sophomore in college. Still gonna do things that everybody in college does.’’
Things that everybody in college does. Hmm.
You look back over these missteps and Manziel doesn’t come across as a heinous human being. But he doesn’t come across as someone to whom you want to entrust your football team.
Not every quarterback that comes from a small town in Texas, as Manziel (Kerrville), does, has to fit the mold of Mike Winchell, the tight-lipped, burdened-by-pressure quarterback in Friday Night Lights.
But that Odessa Permian team knew it could depend on Winchell, knew he’d never oversleep or expect special treatment.
It has been said millions of times that times have changed since 1988. There’s Twitter and TMZ and everyone has a cellphone with a camera.
One thing that hasn’t changed is trust. Championship teams have it.
If you’re an A&M player or a member of the Aggies’ vaunted 12th Man fan base, the question lurking in the back of your mind like the end of a chinstrap poking through the ear hole is this:
Can Johnny Manziel be trusted? If the answer turns out to be yes, the Legend of Johnny Football will walk with Archie Griffin and Tim Tebow and RG III.
If the answer is no, the train out of College Station will jump the tracks.