Johnathan Manziel is an incredible football player and the only redshirt freshman to win the Heisman Trophy.
Where many of us would shrink under the pressure, he is most at home on the football field, between the lines, under center and in front of 100,000 screaming nut-jobs. This is where Johnathan Manziel can be himself.
But Johnny Football is a totally different person.
He parties with Mark Cuban, Justin Timberlake, Drake, Jessica Biel and the entire Duck Dynasty crew. He rubs elbows with hip-hop and NBA stars, vacations in Cabo and tees it up at Pebble Beach. But he also gets into meaningless twitter spats with people who buy the ink by the barrel (looking at you, Paul Finebaum and Matt Hayes). He trolls opposing fan bases, rips on his own college campus and gets kicked-out of prestigious summer camps.
Keeping up with Johnathan Manziel is easy for Texas A&M head coach Kevin Sumlin. But keeping track of Johnny Football is a totally different task. And it all started well before Manziel played his first college football game against Florida last September.
June 2012: Manziel and best friend/handler/secretary Steven Brant are arrested in Northgate district of College Station after getting into a fight with 47-year-old Marvin McKinney. Brant reportedly used a racial slur and the fight ensued. Manziel was charged with disorderly conduct, possessing a false identification (two, actually) and failure to identify. This happened while Manziel was battling Jameill Showers for the starting job before he ever played a down of college football.
July 2012: Manziel was privately suspended indefinitely following the incident and, according to Sportsday, was going to transfer to another school had the suspension not been lifted. Manziel eventually won the appeal, was reinstated and became the official starting quarterback of the Texas A&M Aggies.
Nov. 9, 2012: According to ESPN, the day before the historic Alabama-Texas A&M game that basically won Manziel the Heisman, the quarterback was in the Aggies team hotel signing more than 50 items for a “prominent autograph broker on eBay.” The broker added that more than 200 more items were signed a few days after the game. Friend and personal assistant Nathan Finch later informed the broker that he would no longer being signing things for free.
Dec. 8, 2012: The first redshirt freshman in NCAA history is awarded the Heisman Trophy when Johnny Manziel tops Manti Te’o and Collin Klein for sports most prestigious award.
Jan. 6, 2013: The reported massive signing of autographs for a huge five-figure paycheck takes place in Miami at the BCS National Championship game. More on this later. A few days earlier, Manziel was openly brazen about his “casino ballin'” when he instagrams a photo of himself and his buddies in an Oklahoma casino with handfuls of cash. This was his twitter response to the internet uproar: “Nothing illegal about being 18+ in a casino and winning money...KEEP HATING!” Let the trolling begin.
January 2013: Manziel teams up with trick shot superstars Dude Perfect Crew:
March 2013: Manziel takes a spring break vacation to Cabo, Mexico. A picture of Manziel shirtless and with a Texas Longhorns tattoo surfaces on the web. Many called the tattoo photoshopped, however, Manziel himself admitted it was a fake “henna” tattoo. More trolling.
March 2013: In spring practice, Manziel throws three interceptions, the last of which causes a defensive graduate assistant to jump up and down in celebration. Manziel was furious and shoves the GA and the two have to be broken up by teammates and coaches. It’s not all that unusual to see pushing and shoving on a football practice field, so take it for what it's worth.
April 2013: Manziel throws out the first pitch at a Texas Rangers home game.
May 2013: Manziel shoots a 79 at Pebble Beach and gets to throw out another first pitch, this time at a San Diego Padres game. Additionally, he heads out west to work with notable quarterback guru George Whitfield. Many big-time college quarterbacks have done this of late and, reportedly, Manziel completed 25-of-27 passes... blindfolded.
June 2013: It really isn’t worth sitting through, but Manziel and teammate Ryan Swope starred in Granger Smith’s music video “Silverado Bench Seat”. This isn’t part of the story at all, but it is funny that Manziel is featured in the video, of course, signing autographs.
June 10, 2013: Manziel tweets about being at Game 2 of the NBA Finals in South Beach. He is a Dallas Mavericks fan and grew up outside of San Antonio. Troll much?
June 2013: Manziel is given a parking ticket for parking the wrong way in front of his house and for his car windows being tinted too dark. He was out of town on a fishing trip and had the bizarre luxury of having a phone conversation with the police officer who wrote the ticket. Afterward, Manziel learns his new black Mercedes-Benz has been keyed. Manziel sent out the tweet heard ‘round the state: “Bull--- like tonight is the reason I can’t wait to leave College Station…whenever it may be.” It was immediately deleted and he followed that up with “Don’t ever forget that I love A&M with all of my heart, but please please walk a day in my shoes.” Yes, our bleeding hearts go out to you, kid.
July 2013: Johnny Manziel is sent home from the Manning Passing Academy. He was serving as a college coach and advisor where hundreds of kids from around the nation get the chance to work out with some of their heroes — undoubtedly Manziel was the biggest name. However, “after missing and being late for practice assignments,” he was sent home, by what most believe, was Archie Manning. Some say he was ill and others say he was out partying the night before. Either way, he got kicked out of the Manning Passing Academy. A few days later, Manziel is in attendance at the ESPY’s in Los Angeles.
July 2013: Manziel is the star of the show at the annual SEC Media Days circus in Hoover, Ala.
July 26-27, 2013: Manziel is kicked out of a frat party at the University of Texas. Video shows some (idiot) frat bros throwing beer cans at their arch-rival quarterback as he walks out. That doesn’t phase the young star, however, as he returns to another frat party the next day wearing a Tim Tebow jersey. Trolling at its finest.
July 30, 2013: Wright Thompson’s story about Johnny, his father Paul and the entire off-season is published online and in ESPN The Magazine. The story paints a bizarre and blindingly accurate portrait of Manziel’s upbringing, internal struggle and change in personality after gaining fame from his Heisman Trophy exploits. It is a brilliant piece of work from Thompson, but the timing is strange and no good could have come from it being published just weeks before camp opened for Texas A&M.
Aug. 4, 2013: “Outside the Lines” reports that Manziel is under NCAA investigation for accepting a five-figure flat fee for signing hundreds of autographs with a well-known memorabilia broker Drew Tieman back in January. Tieman met with the star quarterback at his residence in South Florida where the potential transaction took place. Multiple sources have confirmed to ESPN that this meeting happened, however, no one was in the closed-door meeting where money could have changed hands.
Aug. 5, 2013: Texas A&M opens camp and Kevin Sumlin speaks with the media. Johnny Manziel and the Aggies decide it’s best he doesn’t speak publicly at this time.
And that is where we stand in this Manziel media world we live in today. Most of the incidents listed above, if you want to call them that, are much to do about nothing. It actually IS just a kid being a kid, albeit a cocky, immature one. But when the NCAA gets involved and there is talk of major violations, things get serious in a hurry.
College football starts in 24 days and Texas A&M begins playing football in 26 days when Rice comes to town August 31. The Aggies expect to compete for an SEC and National Championship in 2013. Hundreds of millions are pouring into the ever-growing Kyle Field and its surrounding facilities in anticipation of the very bright future of TAMU athletics.
But who will be playing quarterback? Will it be the guy who led the nation in total offense, scored 47 total touchdowns and miraculously defeated Alabama? Or will it be the guy who cusses his aunt and demands his daddy buy him a Mercedes?
Or will it be Matt Joeckel?