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An Open Letter To Johnny Football

manziel-si-coverYesterday ESPN The Magazine — with all its sister Bristol-based tentacles (radio, TV, telegraph, two cans and a string) — brought you a hyper-inside look at Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel and his family.  The story told of a growing rift between the family and the school.  It put the spotlight on the young man’s drinking — he’s 20 — and his temper, as well as his stated desire to just find some normalcy in his life.

Today, SI.com has posted its own feature on Johnny Football.  He’s even on a regional cover of the magazine itself.  Of course, if you want to read it, you’ll have buy “a digital version of the issue.”

No, thanks.

But while reading yet another piece on Manziel, we at MrSEC.com thought we’d provide him with a few tips that might make his life a bit easier in the months to come.  If ESPN’s piece yesterday showed us anything, it’s that the kid appears to be all on his own.  No one, it seems, has ever told Manziel “no.”  Growing up with money and with parents who won’t even wring his neck for flinging clubs across a golf course, A&M’s star quarterback seems to have reached the conclusion that anything goes.  Without consequences.

Sadly, for all the incredible work Kevin Sumlin has done in College Station, he too seems to have failed Manziel.  The coach could have banned him from Twitter long ago.  He did not.  And Twitter has helped build the crazed following Manziel is now trying to escape.  Twitter has been a self-admitted distraction for the QB.  And Twitter has led to trouble in the form of angry messages about College Station and photos of celebrity living that have become a headache for A&M’s compliance department.

So with the 20-year-old getting no direction from anyone else in his life, we thought we’d try to provide a little guidance our own selves.  Before doing so, we must acknowledge that Manziel has to want to help himself.  We are dubious of his desire to do so.  Does the quarterback really want to get back to a normal life or does he want all the perks that go with being a hip Heisman-winner — celebrity friends, trips all over the country, etc — minus the negatives?  I think most 20-year-olds who’ve never been taught about actions and consequences and who don’t understand the so-called “price of fame” would prefer to take the buffet approach to celebrity.  “I’ll keep this trip to a Drake concert in Canada, but I’ll leave the people asking for autographs.  I’ll keep the great seats at the NBA finals, but I’ll leave the questions about how I got the tickets.”

Adults know that life doesn’t work that way.  Manziel isn’t a mature adult yet.  And the mature adults in his life aren’t helping matters.

So here’s our attempt to lend a helping hand to a college student who’s trying to navigate super-stardom all by his lonesome:

 

1.  Johnny, take the next nine months and become a hermit.  Drop off the grid.  If you want to lose the paparazzi-like aspects of fame, you’re going to have to surrender some of that fame.  That means no jet-setting until after the NFL draft.

Need to unwind?  Have some buddies or teammates over to your place.  Don’t get sucked into an all-night frat party.  Don’t get your photo snapped at every bar in town.  In general, just “don’t.”

By going the monk route for nine months you’ll be showing NFL scouts that you’re serious about football and that you have control of your own life.  Fair or not, each week it seems more and more apparent that you’re spinning out of control.  It happens.  There’s a reason so many child stars find young adulthood to be difficult.

So buckle down, focus on A&M’s 2013 season, and prove to NFL owners that you won’t be a risky pick next April.  Just nine months, Johnny.  Heck, consider yourself pregnant with the goal of delivering a heavy, healthy pro contract.

 

2.  Take advantage of your new low-profile lifestyle and use some of your newfound free time to get back on your therapist’s schedule.  There’s nothing wrong with talking to a professional about your life, your stresses, your frustrations.  It’s a good thing to try and find avenues other than alcohol to relieve stress.

If you don’t like the therapist you were seeing before, find another.  For a guy who’s living in a fishbowl, it would be good for you to have one person in your life who can be trusted to keep his mouth shut about time spent with Johnny Football.

 

3.  Remove yourself from Twitter and all other social media.  You don’t like the monster that chases you everywhere you go, but pal, you’ve built that monster.  There have been other Heisman-winners in the Twitter age, but they didn’t deal with the mania that surrounds you.  There are other stars in the SEC — AJ McCarron at Alabama and Jadeveon Clowney at South Carolina — who could match you in celebrity if they tried.  But that’s the key, McCarron and Clowney aren’t constantly tweeting photos of themselves hanging with athletes and musicians.

Think of it this way: You’re burning up in the fire that is stardom.  Twitter is gasoline.

You can’t continually say, “Look at me!” and then complain when everyone gawks and points when you trip up.  Literally, you’re asking for it.

Over the weekend you woofed about crossing the 400,000-followers barrier.  That’s not the comment of a man who wants to back away from fame.  If you really want to rid yourself of the noise and nonsense around you, then you’re going to have to actually back away from the fame.

In Point One we said you’ll need to become a hermit.  Hermits don’t tweet.

 

4.  Only deal with the media during school-sanctioned press opportunities.  How can a media outlet say that?  ‘Cause we’ve got your best interest in mind.  Now, this isn’t to suggest that the mean ol’ media is out to get you.  No, they just respond to everything interesting that you do.  And you do a lot.  But there’s no need to give them any more access than is necessary.

Example: The ESPN The Magazine piece.  More than likely, you and your family decided to let a writer see just how crazy and hectic your life really is.  But the writer did his job and wrote about all of his observations.  And he observed your temper tantrums.  He wrote about your drinking.  That’s honest, but it’s not good for your reputation.  It’s not the image you want out there.  So end the all-access tour.

Oh, and for the love of God don’t let your parents do any more interviews, either.  Parents love their kids.  There’s never been an athlete who hasn’t had a mom or dad or brother or sister or cousin defend them — often profanely — against the insulting, hate-filled nitwittery found on messageboards.  That’s to be expected.  But when your family comes across as enablers — “Well, we wish Lil’ Johnny wouldn’t drink so much, or get tattoos, or fly to rap shows” — it’s not helping your cause.  So see if they’ll hang out under your bridge while you hermit away the next nine months.

 

If you follow those four simple steps, you’re going to win back a number of fans — Aggie and otherwise — who love rooting for you on the field.  Now, some will mourn your decision to become a boring Regular Joe, but those folks don’t see you as a person, they see you as a story topic or as a punchline.  Ignore them.  If you turn down the volume on The Johnny Football Show, you’ll win over a lot more than the 440,000 folks who’re following you now on Twitter.

Follow those four steps and the only Manziel-related stories you’ll see on “SportsCenter” will focus on your game rather than your partying.  That’d be a major move in the right direction.  By laying-low and unplugging, you’ll defuse the media bomb that goes off every time you stumble.  And if you’re in the public eye doing the rock star thing, you will stumble.

Follow those four steps and you’ll not create off-field distractions for your team this fall.  You’ll also help your own draft stock and fatten your already thick wallet come next April.  You’ll once again become known for your football, not Twitter and boozing.

Follow those steps, Johnny.  For your own sake, follow those steps.

 

 


13 comments
Tmaggie85
Tmaggie85

Yeah, that JFF won't be able to speak to the media today.  I think Coach should implement a Sophomores aren't allowed to talk to the media.  So ready for the season to begin!

Clarence
Clarence

JFF is no hermit.  Wait until he gets 600 yds offense against Rice.  All will be forgotten and/or forgiven.  Then Sam Houston gets a ""payback" for all their smack talk last year as JFF logs another 600 yards.  Then the game of the Millennium.  The football world will revolve around Johnny's world in College Station for a week.   

You think he will be a hermit?  

Fat chance.

jhtlaw
jhtlaw

I think you believed too much of the espn story.

pbrstreetgang
pbrstreetgang

All good advice, but if he really wants to shed the limelight (And I agree, I'm not so sure he does) all he needs to do is start turning the ball over.

Or maybe AJ McCarron can give him some brotherly advice as they spend the Christmas Holidays together on the French Riviera trying to chase women who have never heard of them (and LSU prepares for the BCS title game).

RoadTrip
RoadTrip

Some good work there, John. Fat chance of it being accepted. Too many enablers around him. When (not if) he crashes, I hope it's not permanent and he can recover.

the_voice
the_voice

 Nice try, John, but how 'ya gonna keep 'em down on the farm after they've seen Paree? After all, he's Johnny F___ing Football!

John at MrSEC
John at MrSEC moderator

@Clarence 

I didn't say I thought he would be.  I don't think he really wants rid of the limelight.  But if he's smart, he will start to lay low IF he really does want to get out of the fishbowl.

And being a hermit has nothing to do with his on-field play.  If anything, focusing on football rather than tweeting and booze should help his game.

Thanks for reading the site,

John

John at MrSEC
John at MrSEC moderator

@jhtlaw 

Ah, so Wright Thompson was given access to the family and he lied about what he saw.  That's a gutsy move for a journalist with his reputation.

Thanks for reading the site,

John

John at MrSEC
John at MrSEC moderator

@the_voice 

I hear his parents have hired a Brother Seamus to find him.

Thanks for reading the site,

John

jhtlaw
jhtlaw

@John at MrSEC @jhtlaw C'mon John, Thompson already apologized to the Manziels for the story being out of context.  Show me the proof of this "boiling rage" that Johnny has.  Thrown golf clubs?  I seem to remember stories of athletes hauling their girlfriends down stairs by their hair, beating up bouncers at clubs, breaking the jaw of a fellow student athlete, etc.  Those players may suffer from rage, Johnny does not. Ultra competitive? yes.  I agree with you that Johnny needs to stay away from the press, and hopefully he learns that from this article/experience.  Sensationalism sells, and the media certainly is not interested in clearing up any of Johnny's actions or explaining his statements.

the_voice
the_voice

@John at MrSEC @the_voice I think Tebow may be an option. I'm sure he would like to help Johnny in his life journey. "I once was lost but now I'm found. Was blind but now I see." After all, Johnny already has Tebow's jersey.

John at MrSEC
John at MrSEC moderator

@jhtlaw @John at MrSEC 

One, I don't believe I used the term "boiling rage" anywhere in my piece or in a follow-up comment.  

Two, I must have missed the Wright Thompson apology.  

Three, I can't believe anyone would look at the list of things I've listed and NOT want their quarterback to follow them.  

Thanks for reading the site,

John 

Trackbacks

  1. [...] Pennington wrote an open letter to Johnny Manziel on his site, MrSEC.com. In it, he offers the Heisman winner a little unsolicited advice — [...]

  2. [...] a few A&M’ers even took our four-step list of Manziel “to dos” as a negative.  “Hell, no!  We want him drinking, tweeting his every thought, and [...]

  3. [...] wrote last week that Manziel should go the hermit route throughout the 2013 season.  If he’s cleared of the autographs-for-sale allegations and [...]

  4. […] The Magazine’s” inside look at the life of Johnny Football hit the web — I wrote an open letter to the Aggie quarterback.  In it, four suggestions were put […]

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