Johnny Manziel: The True Shame In The Johnny Football Saga

Originally posted to on September 4, 2013

You have been cheated.

That’s right. You, me, and everyone else that enjoys college football has been cheated. One of the greatest talents to ever pick up a football is currently plying his trade, yet people don’t seem to care much about that. People are more concerned about autographs, bylaws, touchdown celebrations, and what a 20-year-old likes to do on the weekends. Perhaps even more disconcerting is that people are searching for meaning in all these things, meaning that doesn’t exist. In this search for some complex truths about our society, something simple, simple but magical, has been lost.

I could post link after link to columns dissecting the behavior of Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel, but that would be redundant at this point (seriously though, that second column I linked to, what is that? That one has to be an elaborate prank, right?). A simple Google search will return plenty of self-righteous columns detailing Manziel’s “transgressions” against the NCAA, “transgressions” against the game of football, and “transgressions” against society as a whole. There’s nothing sports writers like more than an opportunity to take the high ground on a supposedly moral issue, and if that moral issue happens to be a college superstar signing some autographs or getting drunk on a Friday night, then so be it.

It’s a terrible situation because when it comes to Johnny Manziel, everyone has amnesia about what it’s like to be a college student. Yes, Manziel is brazen and cocky and whatever other euphemism you want to use to say that he’s full of himself. But then again, why shouldn’t he be? He’s the reigning Heisman winner. He managed to beat the national champions last season when hardly anyone gave his team a chance. He has singlehandedly revived a football program that has been operating in the shadow of schools like Texas and Oklahoma ever since they first strapped on helmets. I can understand why Manziel, as the most celebrated athlete in college sports as well as being a 20-year-old college kid, might want to live it up a little while he has the chance.

Even worse is that amidst all the riff-raff of autographs and alcohol and NCAA hypocrisy, something has been lost. There is column after column exorcising Manziel for everything he has (or hasn’t) done off the field, but good luck finding an article that delves into what Johnny Manziel does, you know, on the field. This is one of the most exciting talents to ever play college football, and all anyone can do is talk about how he got off easy for signing autographs or how he disrespected his family and teammates by getting drunk like thousands of other college students do every weekend.

Johnny Manziel isn’t a referendum on society. He’s not a case study in the corrupt nature of amateurism and the NCAA. To reduce what Manziel has accomplished on the football field in order to prove a point about amateurism or the “the sanctity of the game”, whatever that’s supposed to mean, is a damn shame.

I, for one, am more interested in his defense of the Heisman Trophy. I’m intrigued to see whether or not his freewheeling style of play will work again in his second season as a starter. I can’t help but feel enthralled whenever he tries one of his patented whirling dervish scrambles where you don’t know if he’s going to run, throw, or get nailed by a hard-charging defensive end. To me, they could hold the A&M-Alabama contest tomorrow night and it wouldn’t be soon enough. I simply love watching Johnny Football do his thing. There isn’t another player like him in college football right now, and it’s a shame that we can’t put aside the petty off-field stuff to simply enjoy what’s going on right in front of our eyes.


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About PapaBearJere

Jeremy Klein is an unabashed Cleveland Sports fan who only wants to see a Cleveland team win a title. You can follow him on twitter @PapaBearJere or email him at

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