Still not sure what JFF has done wrong, at least morally. But he's created his own monster and it would appear that his parents have done nothing more than enable him. I'm still baffled by why anyone would care where he goes, who he dates and how much he drinks as long as he stays out of trouble. That said, many Aggies are starting to wonder if he is really one of them. And if he and Daddy Paul start blaming the university for his problems, then there will likely be little love lost once he leaves College Station for greener pastures. As far as Sumlin is concerned, I think we're all getting a taste of the Sumlin management style. Everyone is self-serving to some extent, but my gestalt is that Sumlin is more so than most. In a few years, when Sumlin and JFF are both in the NFL (although not necessarily successful), Aggies will look back fondly on their brief time in Aggieland, embrace the program they helped build and the new coach who will plant firm roots in the Brazos Valley. Hopefully that wil be Larry Fedora.
Let’s see. Johnny Manziel is now the focus of a new piece from “ESPN The Magazine” writer Wright Thompson. There’s some interesting stuff in the piece, but a few Texas A&M fans have let me know that I should stop writing about Johnny Football. In their maroon-glazed eyes, it’s clear that I hate their quarterback.
What to do? What to do?
Well, as an SEC site I guess we’re gonna have to go ahead and share some of the juicier tidbits from the new profile. And we’ll give you our take — including how those around him are failing Manziel — at the bottom of the piece. Among the key takeaways:
* Playing golf with his father — in the hopes of easing the frustrations of living under the media (and social media) microscope — Manziel angrily flings a club after a poor shot. That leads to this passage from Thompson:
“Paul (Manziel’s father) sees the club toss but doesn’t say anything. Not yet, not until he clams his own anger and frustration. Johnny needs to grow up or risk losing his future, and every thrown club, or ill-advised tweet, reminds his father how far they have to go. Paul is scared.
‘I don’t enjoy playing golf with him because I don’t want to see that temper,’ he’ll say later. ‘I honestly do not. I cringe when he wants to play golf. I don’t want to do it, but I know I have to do it. Because he still needs love. He still needs guidance. He still needs to see he’s wrong — and how to control his temper. And if I give up on him, who’s gonna take over? The school sure the hell isn’t gonna do it.”
* Of the parking ticket incident — the one Manziel turned into a national story by tweeting that he looked forward to getting out of College Station — Thompson quotes Manziel’s father as saying the local police “are harassing him.”
* Somehow this next one managed to fly under our radar. After Manziel’s “I can’t wait to leave” tweet, A&M’s student newspaper ran a column headlined: “Johnny, Be Gone.” The opinion-piece urged Manziel to leave after the upcoming football season. Now that was probably one college student columnist overreacting to the tweeted overreaction of fellow student, Manziel. Still, that’s the kind of thing that would most definitely get under the skin of an athlete who’s putting his body on the line for their shared school.
* Manziel has hired a high school buddy to act as his assistant and manager, “handling media requests and helping coordinate the bodyguards from Houston whom Johnny’s parents would like them to hire whenever they go out, making sure there’s someone around to defuse a confrontation before it begins.” That friend — upon reading a story about Manziel’s near suspension from A&M a year ago — said, “That’s someone in the school talking.” Thompson writes:
“He’s suspicious about this story, which credits an unnamed source. Nate thinks Texas A&M is leaking on its star quarterback, and in the end it doesn’t even really matter if that is true or not. there’s been a growing rift between the school and its most important student. It’s not just Nate’s paranoia about the story, or Johnny’s frustrations with the nonfootball, marketing expectation of the school, or his father’s sense of injustice that everyone makes money off his son but his son. The rift is more profound. Many people close to Johnny Manziel no longer believe in the integrity of the institutions charged with protecting him.”
Hmmm. Think now that Kevin Sumlin should have helped his QB by banning him from Twitter? This is a young man with a temper. A young man with a temper who likes to have a cocktail or two. Mix in Twitter and that’s a volatile combination. If Sumlin — or Manziel’s parents — had barred Johnny Football from Twitter, we would have never heard of his desire to leave College Station. He would have never grown frustrated about the reaction to his tweet. The Manziel Mania that surrounds him wouldn’t be so great if 400,000 people weren’t following his every move via that social media platform.
If Sumlin or Manziel’s parents had had the foresight to say “knock it off,” the circus around the quarterback today would not require so big a tent.
(On a sidenote, you gotta wonder what former South Carolina quarterback Stephen Garcia will think when he reads this piece. Aggie AD Eric Hyman certainly rained on Garcia’s parade in Columbia. While the quarterback brought quite a bit of his troubles on himself — don’t we all? — he’ll likely not be surprised to find that the Manziel family has lost faith in an athletic department run by his old AD.)
* But should we expect that kind of leadership from Manziel’s parents? According to Thompson, his folks wanted to get license plates that said “jffmom” and “jffdad.” That would stand for “Johnny F—— Football’s mom” and “Johnny F—— Footbally’s dad.” Their 17-year-old daughter had to “point out the bad example that might set for the kids who looked up to her brother.”
* According to Thompson, both of Manziel’s parents believe this will be their son’s last in College Station. No surprise there. But the writer says that the parents are worried what this final year in college might bring. According to Paul Manziel: “Yeah, it could come unraveled. And when it does, it’s gonna be bad. Real bad.”
The piece goes on from there. It’s a fascinating read.
Some A&M fans will read the piece and be scared witless by details revealed revealed in this profile of their hero. The vast majority, however, will likely blow it off as anti-Aggie spin from an ESPN machine that hates A&M and the SEC. (Pay no attention to the multi-million dollar checks sent from Bristol to Birmingham every month.)
The reality is that we’re all watching the rise and fall of a star. Offer kids the world on a string and most will snatch it out of your hand before you finish your sentence. There are only so many Tim Tebows. Unlike St. Timothy, Manziel has chosen to suck the marrow out of life and all his carpe diem’ing has turned his life into a frenzy in a fishbowl.
No one has aided him by saying, “no,” or by taking the loaded Twitter gun from his hand. Instead, he’s been coddled and protected and anyone who’s suggested that the poor guy needs some help on the maturity front has been labeled a hater.
Well, I think a case could be made that Manziel’s got way too many lovers and could use a few haters in his life. And that case is made pretty strongly in Thompson’s “ESPN The Magazine” piece.