Part of the job as a starting quarterback at a Southeastern Conference school is ambassador, pitchman. That’s the deal. We give kids scholarships to lead our big-time football teams as freshmen because they supposedly have more talent and leadership qualities than other kids who have to live out their athletic dreams with 50 people in the stands.
If Manziel wants to throw it all away and take on this iconoclast-who-doesn’t-like-the-attention label, fine. Let him. But his actions don’t dovetail with this whole Prisoner of His Own Fame act.
Earlier this month he was accused of accepting money from memorabilia dealers for autographs he signed in January, which threatens his eligibility. It culminated an offseason of being booted from the Manning Passing Academy because he says he overslept; tweeting that he couldn’t wait to leave College Station after getting a parking ticket; and being kicked out of a party at Texas because nothing says “I Hate Being Famous” more than showing up at a fraternity house of your archrival.
Wright Thompson, one of the more gifted people in my business, wrote the equivalent of an intervention for Manziel in a recent issue of ESPN the Magazine. It portrays an angry kid, chained up by his celebrity and sick and tired of meeting people. A series of anecdotes show him ordering beers with his old man on the golf course, at lunch, whenever.
Memo to every kid who wants a man card: If a good chunk of your relationship with your father is knocking back longnecks with him before you’re of legal drinking age, you might want to red flag that one.
He comes across as if he would have been better off partying at some nondescript junior college where no one knew his name and he could make all the stupid mistakes he wanted on his way to finding his real lot in life.
Trust me: It’s not a better life than beating Alabama and winning the Heisman.
The kid doesn’t have to instantly transform his live-wire personality into saintliness. He doesn’t have to become Johnny Be Good. But even Johnny Be Civil would be a hell of an improvement. And I’ll guarantee this: It’s a lot better than Johnny Be Undrafted.
For more by Mike Wise, visit washingtonpost.com/wise.