Johnny Manziel of Texas A&M won the Heisman Trophy at the end of the regular NCAA Football season. He made history by becoming the first freshman to receive that award. Given all the news that Manziel has made since capturing that esteemed trophy, the fact that he won seems to be a small blip on the radar screen considering how much press he has received recently, much of it being very controversial and negative. It does seem that he has all the skills and talent in the world. So why does it feel like we are watching a train wreck?
Manziel is definitely very talented and does appear to have the skills needed to translate to the NFL. During this past season, he rushed for 1,000 yards and passed for 3,000 yards. He is the first freshman to ever win the Heisman Trophy which is very impressive. He also won the Manning Award and the Davey O’ Brien National Quarterback Award. However, he has garnered more press for his off the field activity than what he accomplished last season, which is upsetting. If you mention the name, Johnny Manziel to many sports fans or even very casual fans, they will probably think of him leaving the Manning Passing Academy early, apparently because he overslept, even though allegedly someone else tried to wake him up. They also might think about him trying to get into a University of Texas fraternity party and getting kicked out, or tweeting that he couldn’t wait to get out of College Station because of a parking ticket.
More recently, Manziel’s father mentioned in an interview that he was concerned about his son’s well-being and how he copes with his fame, which isn’t very well. The fact that his own father is very concerned should speak volumes of the fact that Manziel may be handling his success very badly. Now the latest saga regarding the player known as “Johnny Football” is that he received payments for autograph sessions that he attended back in January. This could end very badly. If the NCAA does find that Manziel received payments, he could be ineligible and that could spell an end to his college career, before it barely got started.
I can’t help but think that no matter how this ends, Manziel’s name has already been a little tainted. Will an NFL team want to put up with all the baggage that seems to come with him? My guess is no. He may still be drafted but I certainly don’t think he will be a first-round draft choice. Whenever I hear Manziel mentioned, I tend to think of Ryan Leaf. He had all the talent in the world but he got caught up in his own fame, not to mention that he had personal demons that he was dealing with. He was a complete bust as a professional quarterback and now is serving time in prison. Maurice Clarett is another player who lit it up in college, got too caught up in being a celebrity and was a washout in the NFL. He also served time in prison. I really don’t believe that Manziel is heading in that direction, but I feel that there are other college quarterbacks who will work harder, study more, prepare better and concentrate on what they do out on the field, rather than getting caught up in their own name.
My gut feeling is that Manziel won’t play another down for Texas A&M and that will be it for his college career. He has spent so much time being a celebrity, it is questionable how much time he has spent preparing for the upcoming season. Some NFL team may take a chance on him, but I think he is going to find that he will need more than his natural talent to succeed. He has to succeed as a person and whatever team that drafts him may not have the patience to wait for him to mature. Nor will that team’s fan base. We all know how brutal fans can be when is much is expected and results are disappointing.
Here’s hoping that doesn’t happen. That is a tough lesson to learn at a very young age.