It’s funny, you know. I am not a fan of Aggie football, in fact I despise them when they play the Longhorns. But I have this love hate relationship where I don’t want them to get destroyed, just put in their place. Specifically, I think their place is the little brother to the Longhorns. Ha. I have family and friends who went to A&M that I respect, so I want them to win, just less than the Longhorns. Something gets out of hand when they beat us or get more recruits that feels just wrong.
But, despite my reservations, I don’t hate Johnny Manziel. In fact, I admire him. As a competitor in sports during my youth, he seems to have great athleticism and qualities for leadership and maybe even character. You might argue with me, referencing the jail time for the fake ID, the instances of drinking too much, or making money in spite of the collegiate rules against it. And you definitely have a point.
I do disagree with what he did, but somewhere it doesn’t sit right with me. No one has ever won a heisman as a freshman before him. Only a few years earlier, Tim Tebow, was the first sophomore to win the award. Now the floodgates are open and it will continue, as Winston, a freshman from Florida State won. The rules have been changing for the media publicity of college sports. Cable tv ratings have been on a decline for years, except for sports. The amount of hype and promotion surrounding d1 colleges with great sports programs is obvious. But, in my circles, the selection of colleges among non-athletic college students is weighed heavily by those that have the best football teams because they equate the comraderie and fun they will have directly to the sports tradition of the school. With the abundant choices for college these days and the increasing challenge to enter the d1 elite programs, in many ways, it is not just about academics. In fact, it may never have been. Because of this, I don’t see a problem with some level of reimbursement to collegiate-athletes.
That is another story for another time, but that being said, Johnny football’s increased fans and media hype went through the roof after his award. Previously, those who won the ultimate football award had one year left of college or were moving on to the pros to make serious money and could accept any endorsements at that point. Johnny could not, he needed more grooming.
So, do I think he is a loser, idiot, or a moron? Not exactly. I definitely think he has some over the top antics but anytime he has been knowingly in the public eye he has spoken well of himself and even given gratitude to others as opposed to talking about only himself. I would love to see evidence of something other than a few isolated incidents of childish behavior. Even his coaches seem to back him up and suggest that his media exploits are contrary to the Manziel they know.
What I try to remember and what encourages me through all of this is remembering when I was a competitor in sports as a kid. Anytime I ran across an insatiable athlete that loves the thrill of the sport and is exceptional at it, they are often a little too confident, possibly even egotistical. Whenever I meet these types I have to warm myself up to them and am usually thrilled when they’re on my team. The thing is, in order to lead a team well, there has to be a level of respect that he gives to his teammates. The selfless leaders are the best ones. This respect will not be fully understood by his teammates if he simply plays selfishly and he will be quickly found out. Also someone who is morally reprehensible off the field might receive respect for a time but once he is seen for who he is the trust of his teammates and his coaches will be damaged. This has a serious effect on any team sports ability to compete and win.
Add to this the praise given to Johnny coming in as a sophomore not far from the beginning of his tenure in college football and you increase the odds against him. He doesn’t seem like a jerk to me, just like a kid who has been put on the spot for his childish antics like trying to enter a bar before he’s of the legal age and being given money off of endorsements after winning the highest award of all college football. He is a kid who needs to be led to maturity in every area even as he has led the Aggies to the past three ridiculously successful seasons.
Unfortunately, I think people love to hate a winner, specifically one who is all male and who they want to paint a picture as a chauvinist pig at any cost. For all my hatred of Aggie football, the people I know that come out of there are, annoying, but also first class.
I’d like to think of Manziel as an elite competitor who has no interest in political correctness and who wasn’t thinking about the consequences to specific actions that led to media scrutiny. Regardless of whether it was right or not, the media was ready to pounce on the guy whenever they had a chance. And for that, Aggies, I wouldn’t be ashamed of his legacy. I wish him well and hope he finds some good mentors in the NFL. But, now that he’s gone, Aggies, I hope you guys lose enough this season so the Longhorns can get more Texas recruits.