Texas A&M Calls Timeout on Johnny Football's Off-the-field Exploits

By Justine Hendricks
Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

Johnny Manziel‘s girlfriend might be as attractive as A.J. McCarron‘s, but if she was at the AT&T Cotton Bowl, no one noticed. They were all too busy watching Texas A&M‘s Heisman Trophy winner score four touchdowns and set a bowl record with 516 yards of total offense.

Manziel was unstoppable all season, passing for 3,706 yards and rushing for 1,410 more, and scoring 47 total touchdowns (26 passing, 21 rushing).

Since winning the Heisman in early December and being named the Cotton Bowl’s Offensive MVP, Johnny Football has made as many headlines off the field as he did on it.

After cameras caught him sitting courtside for a basketball game between the Dallas Mavericks and Miami Heat, some questioned where the quarterback got the tickets and whether he was toeing the right side of the “improper benefits” line. A friend came to Manziel’s defense on Twitter, announcing that Manziel, whose family is in the oil and gas business, didn’t need any assistance coming up with the cash for courtside seats, and the quarterback addressed the suspicions with a tweet explaining that the tickets were his birthday treat to himself.

Johnny Football celebrated the big 2-0 back in December, which explains why some eyebrows shot sky-high when the quarterback was photographed at a club, holding a cigar and a bottle of Dom Perignon, following the Cotton Bowl. Manziel’s parents were also at the Dallas bar with their son, who was not actually seen imbibing any bubbly.

A few days later, he was criticized for posting a photo on Twitter fanning out a wad of bills at a casino. (His response? Another Twitpic, this time fanning out fake bills with a young patient during a visit to a Connecticut children’s hospital.)

Honest and entertaining as he’s been about his life in the spotlight, not everyone appreciated the way Manziel handled his recent successes.

Last week, Oklahoma defensive coordinator Mike Stoops, whose defense was manhandled by Manziel, said the quarterback might be pretty good “if they can keep him out of jail or keep him eligible.”

Stoops obviously doesn’t want to admit it, but he’s seen firsthand that Manziel is already more than “pretty good.”

Still, the Aggies’ athletic director, Eric Hyman, seems to share Stoops’ concerns – after all, the quarterback stayed out of trouble during the season, but he was arrested last spring, before he became the starter, for an altercation outside a bar and for carrying several fake IDs.

The AD is hoping to have better luck than opposing defenses at slowing down the superstar quarterback. Hyman recently had a sit-down meeting with Manziel’s parents to talk about how to handle their son’s new status as a Heisman winner.

“That’s a special fraternity, but you also have to understand [Manziel] is 20 years old. It’s a tremendous responsibility — but it is a responsibility,” Hyman told the San Antonio Express-News. 

Getting Johnny Football to fall in line might not be as difficult as the D-I equivalent of a parent-teacher conference might suggest. Last week, he told reporters he wasn’t doing anything wrong but admitted: “Maybe there are times when I [should] save myself a little grief and zip it up.”

In spite of the photos and the controversial tweets, it sounds like Manziel is beginning to understand how to handle his new status quo, no parental intervention necessary.

“It’s tough knowing that everything you do is watched pretty closely because I’m doing the same stuff I’ve always done. It’s just now people actually care what I do,” he said.

We only care because we’ve seen what he can do on the field and, so far (to the chagrin of the Aggies’ athletic department) Manziel is just as entertaining off the field as he is when he’s carving up SEC defenses.

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