“Oh, look, it’s another story about Johnny Manziel.”
That above statement is a huge reason why I hesitated to even write something on the “Johnny F@#$ing Football” saga. The landscape is littered with tales of his gallivanting about North America, basically living the dream. From Toronto to Cabo, he has had as full of a summer as any college student could hope for. He has tossed first pitches, sat courtside at a Heat game and generally did stuff kids his age would love to do. Heck, he was doing stuff people my age would love to do. Basically, he was living life well.
The result of this has been an over-saturation of all things JFF related. Everywhere you turn, there is a new story about him. The media and Twitter have turned Manziel into something vaguely representing Dos Equis’ Most Interesting Man in the World in a Texas A&M uniform. When people criticize him, they are haters. When people give him props, they are enabling him. It’s something rarely seen before in College Athletics. Of course, what does one expect when you are talking about the first Freshman to win the Heisman in the day and age of hero worship?
All of this aside, there is one thing that is true. Johnny Manziel is a dumbass.
Before you flame the hell out of me and tell me that I am a hater or whatever, let me clarify a few things. What he does in his free time means little to me. The dude is simply bro-ing out like many other guys his age. Sure, he’s doing it at a level not afforded to the vast majority of the population, but who cares? I’ve joked about it, I’ve said it was probably questionable judgment given the NCAA’s love of stalking college kids, but let the dude live his life.
Also, I don’t want to get into a pissing match over the stupidity of the NCAA. If you read the history of my posts and consider who my Alma Mater is, I’m sure you will realize that I also find the NCAA to be completely unbearable, inconsistent, and generally the most awful governing body in all of sports.
So, the NCAA and their rules is not why Manziel is a dumbass. The hobnobbing with the elite is not why he is a dumbass. Not even the ill-advised tweets are why he is a dumbass.
He is a dumbass because he is under a microscope, and yet is stupid enough to let something like this happen.
On the videos, which the broker said were recorded without Manziel’s knowledge, ESPN heard Manziel say “you never did a signing with me” and that if the broker were to tell anyone, he would refuse to deal with him again in the future. Manziel, who appeared comfortable throughout the video recordings, also said if asked, he would say he had simply been approached by various autograph seekers.
At one point, ESPN heard a broker ask Manziel if he would take additional cash to sign with special inscriptions, but Manziel declined, indicating he had done that before and it led to questions. The video does not show Manziel accepting cash, which the broker alleges happened three times. The broker told ESPN that Manziel said he wanted money for new rims for his vehicle.
While the taking of money and breaking rules is ill-advised, especially for a person of Manziel’s means, the fact this ended up on video takes it to another level. You’d think that he would be more careful, right? Granted, no one has accused JFF of thinking before acting, but still. This is the one major thing that can burn you and you would think you would be a little smarter about it.
The video was made to authenticate the autographs. Smart move for the broker. What is said on the video is where the problem lies for Johnny. His eligibility could be at stake here, and for what? Some sweet rims? You can get some pretty sweet rims with NFL money, which he only has to make it one more year to get. You can also maybe talk to the parents before making this move. If they say no, don’t be a baby about it and wait. When your car is being defaced on campus, you may not want those rims, anyway.
The broker said they will not cooperate with the NCAA, which makes their motives for even talking about the video a bit suspect. It also is likely to, and already may have, led to an avalanche of accusations against other high profile college athletes. This will get worse before it gets better and it won’t just be that way for Johnny Football.
If deemed ineligible, the NCAA has allowed reinstatement in the past if the money is paid back in some way. Will Johnny’s parents bail him out, should that be the case? If they are smart, they will not cover for him. If they do, this pattern of dumbassery will continue. After all, if there are no serious repercussions, why should the behavior change?
While it is easy to say you shouldn’t feel sorry for Manziel, it’s also easy to say you should. The NCAA profits off of likenesses of stars who will never see a cent of that money. It’s crappy. But other high profile athletes have managed to fly under the radar and do just fine under the microscope. Tim Tebow is the best example of this. Probably no college athlete had more scrutiny than Tebow and he did just fine. It’s a question of maturity with Manziel and whoever his handlers are need to step in and have a serious heart to heart with him. If he doesn’t get it reigned in, he becomes nothing more than the answer to a trivia question that will win some drunken football fan a $100 bar tab 20 years down the road.
Honestly, I’d like to see Manziel succeed. I am a huge College Football fan. He has a chance to be a face of the game and a positive influence on the future of the sport. Just like the first two-time Heisman winner and the first Sophomore, you want the first Freshman to be thought of for their achievements and not their off-field screw ups.
Unfortunately, from what we’ve been shown with past behavior, I’m not hopeful.