Manziel must battle his fame for football
March, 4, 2013
By Edward Aschoff | ESPN.com
Johnny Manziel gets it.
Despite the photo ops, the newfound celebrity status and all those public sightings well away from College Station, Texas, Johnny Football understands there’s a place for fame and a place for football.
In a recent interview with ESPN’s Kirk Herbstreit, Manziel spoke as if he understood exactly what’s in store for him when it comes to maneuvering around the hype. He’ll be all over preseason magazines, he’ll be followed and followed some more, and his name will be plastered all over any and everything associated with college football.
“I’ve always had the football and school and stuff like that, but it’s that outside stuff now that really makes my life, not really a clutter, but more busy and always doing stuff,” Manziel told Herbstreit.
Texas A&M’s quarterback saw his life completely change in early December when he was announced as the 2012 Heisman Trophy winner. He was already one of the most exciting players to watch in college football, and he became a living legend as the first freshman to take home the coveted bronze statue.
If he hadn’t won it, Manziel would still be idolized, but he wouldn’t be worshiped and he wouldn’t be lumped in with Alabama as the center of attention in college football.
He wouldn’t be an iPhone camera’s fantasy and wouldn’t be scrutinized as much for being courtside at an NBA game. His trick-shot video would be just another Internet link and his face wouldn’t be everywhere we looked.
Such is life for the sport’s most famous player. In the gossip-filled world that we unfortunately live in, Manziel will be hunted and his character will be tested, and he’ll have to prove every day that he can put his team in front of his famous visage.
Manziel described his life as “pure chaos” since winning the Heisman. Wherever he’s gone, a camera -- or 20 -- has followed. He gets bombarded with autograph and photo requests. He’s fighting to keep his Johnny Football name to himself. And he’s had to battle all those wonderful haters, who wish every day that they could step inside his shoes for just a moment.
That isn’t going to stop, so Manziel has to combat it while managing a top-five football team.
Manziel’s plate might be blanketed with off-field distractions, but as spring practice gets under way for the Aggies, it’s time for him to set his celebrity image aside, and he knows that. He understands that the off-field fun and games are over -- for now -- and that it’s time to concentrate on the X's and O's.
He has to understand that the football portion of his life is beginning again, and if this team, which lost some valuable moving parts from the 2012 season, is going to make a run at an SEC title or more, he has to be the field general he was last year.
Johnny Football must trample Johnny Paparazzi.
And it sounds like Manziel is ready to do that. He seemed very honest and genuine during his interview and even went as far to say that he doesn’t understand all the hoopla surrounding him. He still believes he’s the same Johnny who redshirted 2011 and he downplays his popularity.
Clearly things are much different, but it has to be refreshing for his head coach to hear his humility. The last thing Kevin Sumlin needs is a diva running things under center.
Manziel finished the interview talking about the NFL, which is an awkward conversation for anyone in his position. He needs only one more year at A&M before he can make the jump to the NFL, and he didn’t tiptoe around the fact that he’s considered making the leap after the 2013 season.
He knows it could be just another distraction to weigh him down, but Manziel isn't shy about the NFL. Manziel spoke honestly, and that honesty will keep it from being a real distraction.
“For me, I’m enjoying my time here for sure, and if that comes calling, just like anybody else, the decision will have to be made,” he said. “But like I said, I’m very happy here and very happy with Coach Sumlin and college football. I love it.”
And to continue his magical run, he’ll have to have even more love for it in 2013.
UCLA-Texas A&M Schedule Football Series
Final Washington State 45 Colorado State 48 Final 20 Fresno State 20 25 USC 45 Final Buffalo 24 San Diego State 49 Final Tulane 21 Louisiana-Lafayette 24
Final Pittsburgh 30 Bowling Green 27 Final Utah State 21 23 Northern Illinois 14
Final Marshall 31 Maryland 20 Final Syracuse 21 Minnesota 17 Final Brigham Young 16 Washington 31
Final Rutgers 16 Notre Dame 29 Final Cincinnati 17 North Carolina 39 Final Miami (FL) 9 18 Louisville 36 Final Michigan 14 Kansas State 31
Final Middle Tennessee 6 Navy 24 Final Ole Miss 25 Georgia Tech 17 Final 10 Oregon 30 Texas 7 Final 14 Arizona State 23 Texas Tech 37
Final Arizona 42 Boston College 19 Final Virginia Tech 12 17 UCLA 42 Final Rice 7 Mississippi State 44 Final 24 Duke 48 21 Texas A&M 52
Final Nebraska 24 22 Georgia 19 Final UNLV 14 North Texas 36 Final Iowa 14 16 LSU 21 Final 19 Wisconsin 24 9 South Carolina 34 Final 5 Stanford 20 4 Michigan State 24 Final 15 UCF 52 6 Baylor 42
Final 13 Oklahoma State 31 8 Missouri 41 Final 12 Clemson 40 7 Ohio State 35