Football starts Monday. Come August 31 at around 3:00 in the afternoon after Johnny Football has passed and run his way to way too many yards to leave him in the game for the second half, do you think the sports media will be dissecting his off the field antics and tweets or his solidly positioning himself for that second Heisman? I think the latter.
It looks as though there’s yet another lesson that Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel is need of learning. See if you can pick up on it by reading this Johnny Football quote from a recent Sports Illustrated interview:
“I’m adapting. I’m learning. I’m trying to learn from these mistakes. But I’m not going to change who I am because the media wants me to be this, this or this. I’m not going to do that… You love me when I’m running around being dangerous and a loose cannon. What makes me special on the field is what people don’t like off the field. I’m still learning how to put that into perspective.”
If you said, “He needs to learn that being ‘dangerous and a loose cannon’ on the field is different than being ‘dangerous and a loose cannon’ in real life,” you win the prize. One is a game. The other is the honest-to-goodness real world. There is a different standard for acceptable behavior inside and outside the white lines. The dangers inside the stadium — a blown ACL, a concussion — can’t compare to the dangers outside.
Normally, the topic of “how can they leave the game at the ballpark?” comes up when someone who plays a violent sport turns violent in his personal life. This, however, is a rare occasion when a quarterback suggests that his football success ties back to his very “loose cannon” nature.
How long before Manziel jumps a quarry on a motorcycle a la Joe Kane in “The Program?”
I can already hear the response from some members of Aggie Nation. “Stop vilifying Johnny!” Well, no one here is vilifying your quarterback. He’s not shot, stabbed or mugged anyone this offseason. He’s not been picked up for coke, weed or any other illegal substance. Even his drinking is typical behavior for a college student (though the whole drinking to relieve stress thing needs correcting).
Far from vilifying him, personally, I worry about him. I become more worried about him every time I read another quote from him. And thanks to Twitter and an open-door media policy, I read a new quote from him every single stinkin’ day. I’m not alone. Outside of maroon cocoon many Aggie fans live in, there’s a growing feeling — and how could you not get it from reading his own father’s recent quotes — that Manziel might just become the next Todd Marinovich or Ryan Leaf in terms of blown potential.
Amazingly, 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 continuing to feed the FAME beast he claims to be running from.” Good to know you’ve got your QBs best interest at heart, gang.
Anyone who can’t see that this guy needs someone in his life to provide leadership and good advice is so vision-impaired they should take away his driver’s license. That doesn’t make Manziel a bad guy. It makes him someone worthy of concern.
If Manziel — such an impossibly electrifying athlete — doesn’t soon realize that NFL teams aren’t looking for franchise quarterbacks who are loose cannons off the field, he may find himself tumbling down next April’s draft board.
Loose cannon on the field = good. Loose cannon off the field = smaller contract.