Johnny Manziel is one heck of a football player. Mike Stoops and his OU defense know that better than most, having been torched by Johnny Football and Texas A&M in the Cotton Bowl, by a 41-13 count.
But Johnny Football is Johnny Trouble. And it has to do with more than just dealing with the Heisman Trophy spotlight. Long before he had won the A&M quarterback job, much less the Heisman, Manziel found trouble with the law. He this week pled guilty to a charge of failing to identify himself to police. Other charges were dismissed — possession of a false identification card and disorderly conduct. That incident occurred in June 2012, which led to Manziel nearly being removed from school, before A&M coach Kevin Sumlin led an appeal to save Manziel’s Aggie career.
Manziel’s partying in the post-Heisman days has been well-documented, and so has his antics on Twitter, where among other things he said he was ready to get out of College Station. Which might not be in Johnny Trouble’s best interests if he keeps this up.
Manziel over the weekend left the Manning Passing Academy, where he was supposed to be a counselor and working with some of the 1,200 schoolboy quarterbacks. Manziel missed meetings and sessions and eventually was asked to leave; some reports say Archie Manning himself told Manziel to leave the camp in Thibodaux, La. Worse yet, photos later swirled showing Manziel at a College Station watering hole soon after he returned from the Manning camp. And his father told the Dallas Morning News that Manziel had been “dehydrated.”
I guess that’s a word for it.
Johnny Football obviously has problems. Maybe with alcohol, maybe with attitude, certainly with actions. And while the college football cocoon very well could protect him, like it already has, there is no cocoon for where Manziel wants to go next. That’s no direct slam on A&M; most big-time college programs would coddle a ballplayer like that in a similar fashion, maybe under the guise of helping him but certainly under the guise that he helps the school.
Manziel would do well to appreciate the protection that an Aggieland provides. Because on the next level, it’s not there. The NFL is in no mood to gently guide even a Heisman Trophy winner who can’t stay out of trouble, even before he reaches legal drinking age. Not in the post-Aaron Hernandez era.
It’s one thing to make Kevin Sumlin get an early-morning call from local police. It’s quite another for the NFL’s First Family to lose all patience and send Manziel home. That Johnny Football was even at the Manning Passing Academy in the first place was a stretch. Peyton and Eli and Archie excude class and no doubt were appalled at whatever transpired in Thibodaux.
Of course, Eli sowed some wild oats in his Ole Miss days — nothing like Manziel has, so far as we know — but he quickly matured. Manziel’s maturity is not apparent, and that will cost him in the NFL Draft. The NFL was leery of problem-child draft picks even before Hernandez was charged with murder. Commissioner Roger Goodell has made it clear he aims to deal harshly with NFL lawbreakers, and he has.
Manziel is a 6-foot quarterback — seemed even shorter than that, during Cotton Bowl festivities — which will cause some concern among scouts. But Russell Wilson and Drew Brees have alleviated much of the short-quarterback consternation. But a short quarterback who can’t stay out of trouble? A short quarterback who exasperates Archie Manning, quite possibly the NFL’s classiest ambassador?
Manziel is Johnny Football for one more college season. But after College Station, he’s Johnny Trouble to the NFL.