Johnny Manziel was the youngest player to ever win the coveted Heisman Trophy last year, and was the only freshman to ever win the award as well. The Texas A&M student-athlete has been seen court side at a Miami Heat basketball game, chilling at the Final Four, was on hand for the ESPY awards, and he even won one for College Athlete of the Year.
These past two years will likely go down as the most eventful years in his entire life, and ESPN was there to cover and comment upon every aspect of it.
On August 4, 2013, ESPN’s “Outside the Lines” reported that the NCAA was investigating Manziel to determine whether or not he received payment for autographs he signed on several occasions. More and more juicy details have come out over the past week regarding the matter and as usual, ESPN is right up front blaring the trumpet of speculation in all of our faces.
However, this is not a new phenomenon. This is just par for the course as far as the modern sports media is concerned. There have been allegations that Johnny Football has signed autographs on two more occasions since the story first broke. That brings the total to three instances, with an estimated total of 4,400 total autographs signed.
There is no doubt that Manziel was aware of the blaring hypocrisy that is the NCAA from the moment he stepped on campus, as are all other collegiate athletes. The NCAA makes millions of dollars off student athletes, but forbids said athletes from cashing in on their own notoriety. It might go down as the biggest example of institutionalized pimping in America since slavery.
However, what baffles many observers is not that he allegedly committed these violations, but that he felt the need to so in the first place. He is said to come from a upper middle class background, and did not actually need the money. Perhaps his ego did. With all of the media attention that has surrounded Johnny since late 2012, it is easy to imagine a scenario in which the 20-year-old felt he was untouchable.
Imagine a scenario in which every time your 20-year-old self turned to his or her favorite television station, the primary subject of conversation was you? With such shows as “Sportscenter”, “Pardon the Interruption”, and “Around the Horn” airing on a continuously rotating basis, is it possible the young man could have heard his name just a bit too much and not only believed the hype, but began to worship it religiously?
The ESPN family of networks was instrumental in placing Manziel in a medieval tower, with each mention of his name acting as a single brick.
It is also interesting to note that, despite the fact that these alleged incidents happened months ago, the three memorabilia dealers in question all decided to come out at the same time when they have no incentive to do so other than the sole purpose of knocking Johnny Manziel out of his tower — a tower which ESPN helped build.
ESPN has mercilessly beaten the Johnny Manziel news angle and now that he has cracked under the pressure they helped exert, we’re all supposed to be surprised? No, I’d say it was to be expected. How many times did we have to hear about him? How many daily updates do we need? Apparently, a whole lot.
As the NCAA investigation continues to search for evidence, Texas A&M University is under a lot of unwanted scrutiny. Do they continue on with business as usual or did they bench Manziel until further notice? The college football season looms on the horizon, and the answer will be revealed when the Aggies take the field for their first game of the season.
But even if Manziel is suspended for the entire season, the magnitude by which ESPN coverage helps inflate young egos means that there will be many other Manziel-type situations for ESPN to report. They will continually place these youngsters on pedestals while covering their every move, then knock them off when they blink under the glaring spotlight which the network producers themselves helped produce in the name of ratings.