That “Johnny Football” nickname no longer seems to fit.
How about “Johnny Footloose” instead? Or maybe “Johnny Screw Loose?”
Of course, if he refuses to rein in his conduct and keeps acting the knucklehead, he’ll likely start being identified by most individuals as “Johnny Needs A Foot Up His ***.”
Texas A&M University quarterback Johnny Manziel still possesses plenty of football-playing chops, but the notoriety he gained in 2012 by becoming the first-ever freshman Heisman Trophy winner is quickly being replaced by his off-the-field antics in 2013. And actually, his on-field self is nothing to write home about lately, either.
Not in a sheer productivity sense. That much was evident in the Aggies’ season-opener, when Manziel threw three second-half touchdown passes to help defeat Rice University 52-31.
But instead of just leaving well enough alone and walking away as game-day hero once again, Manziel felt it necessary to rub his opponent’s nose in the lopsided outcome. He was flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct after taunting two Owls players by pointing at the scoreboard following the last of his TD tosses.
And, according to various reports, Manziel preceded that antic by making the typical gesture for money — rubbing his thumb and forefingers together — while walking down the field. In addition, he also mimicked signing an autograph while having a verbal exchange with a Rice linebacker.
As an entire body of stupidity, Manziel’s madness is admittedly minor. Athletics has been filled with egotistical types for years, and a number of them simply don’t have a personal “off” button to engage when it comes to practicing a degree of humility.
But you’d think Manziel would be trying a little harder to mind his behavioral P’s and Q’s these days after an unexpectedly turbulent summer. Allegations of his accepting money for a January autograph session in Miami and for another in Connecticut — ESPN reported the latter was captured on a nine-minute video — surfaced and soon placed a bull’s-eye on Manziel, at least as far as the NCAA was concerned.
And college sports’ ruling body wasted no time in making an example of Manziel by dropping the hammer on him — one made of velvet, as it turned out.
The NCAA’s chosen punishment for Manziel’s alleged wrongdoing? A whopping half-game suspension.
That’s not a misprint. The penalty was for him to sit out the first two quarters of the Rice contest. According to the NCAA, Manziel was only in violation of a by-law prohibiting student-athletes from allowing use of their names or likenesses for commercial purposes.
Seeing as how Manziel comes from a wealthy Texas oil family, there would certainly appear to be no need for him to accept money from any outside sources. And the NCAA claimed, based on information provided by Manziel, that indeed never happened.
Boy, what a stunner. An accused individual says he’s clean. We all know that would never happen unless it was really true, right?
Naturally, though, that begs one very important question: When was the last time anyone willingly incriminated himself?
Let’s say, however, that Manziel didn’t directly pocket any cash for autographs. Why, then, would he have supposedly been caught on tape signing a number of them? And beyond that, what did he think the person who was asking for them would do afterward — hand them out free of charge?
Nobody has that big a circle of friends.
And while nothing more concrete could be proved by the NCAA, evidently Manziel wasn’t squeaky-clean here; otherwise, why was there any penalty meted out at all? But while he has been acting like a privileged punk who’s above the rules, Manziel is only partially at fault for believing it.
So, too, is the NCAA, which basically made a mockery of itself by issuing the laughable punishment. Manziel, or any other college football player, would have drawn a longer one for publicly bad-mouthing his university’s mascot.
No, the NCAA only copped out on playing bad cop because it wouldn’t look good to have the most recent Heisman winner not playing at all for an extended period. Johnny Boy is a moneymaker for college football, and it’s bad business to keep your cash cow off the hash-marked milking machine.
We sports fans must also share in the blame. From the time kids are old enough to throw or catch a ball with any amount of dexterity, we treat them differently from their peers.
We all say sports’ significance should be de-emphasized at the collegiate and high school levels and greater importance placed on academics, but our actions tell a different story. We don’t cheer en masse for the kid who is a national honoree among physics or engineering majors, and nobody but his tuition-paying parents probably notices.
Rarely, in fact, is even an athlete’s scholastic achievement noted. It is if the player’s a potential All-American, but a brainiac who happens to be a third-stringer? Forget about it.
We media folks don’t write much about classroom accomplishments because, quite frankly, most of you wouldn’t bother to read it. You’d rather peruse stories about touchdowns and baskets and home runs.
And that’s perfectly fine. Just remember, though, that others besides Johnny Manziel’s biological parents have had a hand in creating the guy we see being a spoiled sportsman today.
The same holds true for all the Johnny Manziels who came before and those who have yet to be discovered. If there’s something about Johnny that doesn’t work well for us, just remember this:
We asked for it.