Johnny Football Approaching Pampered Athlete Status
With the constant stream of headlines this offseason, it's evident Johnny Manziel is reaching pampered athlete status. That status guarantees an athlete doesn't have to take responsibility for his own actions and that it's never his fault.
There are two versions to what happened at the Manning Passing Academy, which Manziel was asked to leave early.
The first comes from a statement released by the camp's spokesman:
"Johnny Manziel did participate in some activities in the 2013 Manning Passing Academy as a college counselor/coach," the statement said. "After missing and being late for practice assignments, Johnny explained that he had been feeling ill. Consequently, we agreed that it was in everyone's best interest for him to go home a day early."
Manziel's subsequent response about not waking up was to blame roommate (Alabama quarterback) A.J. McCarron for not waking him up. Talk about throwing a guy under the bus. So much, in fact, that McCarron was forced to answer questions at SEC Media Days as to why he didn't wake Manziel up.
But that's not the only report to come out. This one comes from Rants and Rumors:
Basically it boils down to this: Manziel apparently lied to his own mother about his reason for missing camp meetings on Saturday morning, misled the media on SEC Media Day and threw Alabama quarterback A.J. McCarron under the bus by forcing him to answer questions about why he didn't wake Manziel up on Saturday morning. What McCarron had to avoid saying was the truth: He couldn't wake Manziel up, because Manziel wasn't in their room.
It was reported to Archie Manning that Johnny Football was last seen somewhere on Bourbon Street in New Orleans at around 4 a.m. (The Nicholls State campus is about an hour drive from New Orleans).
This was Johnny's first mistake. Not necessarily going to New Orleans, but lying about it to Archie, who had already been informed by a friend that Manziel was out on Bourbon. Basically Manning gave Manziel the chance to explain himself the next day when Archie already knew full well what had happened and where he was — classic parent move — but Manziel chose not to tell the truth.
It's hard to know what is folk lore and what is reality at this point. Regardless of what happened, we're seeing a trend of bad publicity for Manziel.
Shoving a graduate assistant. Party-boy ways. An ESPN report that came out saying he faced a suspension for the entire Heisman season. But a letter by head coach Kevin Sumlin prevented that.
Manziel confirmed in a Texas Monthly interview multiple media reports that he was suspended for the entire 2012 season for his role in a bar fight last summer when he was found with a fake ID. As a result of the harsh penalty, Manziel, who was battling for a starting spot as a freshman, decided to transfer.
"They banned me from athletics and from my scholarships," Manziel said, according to Texas Monthly. "I had worked hard, and done everything Coach Sumlin asked me to do, and then they told me I couldn't play anymore."
Manziel's mother, Michelle, told Texas Monthly: "We were shocked. If they're going to do that, we're fixing to have to transfer him to a junior college to get him to play."
If that doesn't say pampered athlete, then I don't know what does.
Manziel made a few dumb mistakes and because he faced consequences, he was going to transfer (with the blessing of his parents). Once Sumlin found that out, he wrote a letter explaining the school didn't need to suspend Manziel.
And (obviously) he wasn't suspended and went on to win the Heisman Trophy, thus creating the legend of Johnny Football.
What Will It Take?
Is Johnny Football going to have to get behind the wheel drunk and kill someone before people start to wake up? How about another bar fight (he's had many) where he puts someone in the hospital?
While some athletes (Michael Vick and Plaxico Burress) have had to pay for their crimes, there are countless others who have gotten away with only a slap on the wrist.
Leonard Little's DUI manslaughter charge stands out where he received four years of probabtion. Six years later got another DUI charge (although it was thrown out even with three failed field sobriety tests).
I'm not saying Manziel is going to do what Little did, but the signs are there that he's going to do something stupid because of his party-boy ways. And it's not just going to affect him. He's going to affect somebody else's life and it's not going to be pretty.
Luckily there's time to turn it around. Manziel can still be a good football player and a good citizen.
As an athlete in the national spotlight, (like it or not) he has a responsibility to fulfill. He may not like it, but that's the price you pay for being an over-hyped quarterback in college football.
Tim Tebow knows exactly what that's like and he filled his role like he was supposed to.
The last thing we need to see is another story on Manziel and his transgressions. There already is a lot on his permanent record and it's not going to go away, especially in the next year or two when NFL teams start to evaluate whether he'll be a good fit for their team.