The Rising Tides for ‘Johnny Football’by Fabian Ardaya on Sep. 13, 2013, under College Football
Some call him everything that’s wrong with college football. Some call him a stupid kid who needs to get his head screwed on straight. Many call him an enigma. But to most, Texas A&M redshirt sophomore quarterback and 2012 Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel just goes by one name: Johnny Football.
It almost seems too perfect that Manziel is getting his first real chance to play against stiff competition against the same team who he had his big “coming out” party against last fall, the No. 1 Alabama Crimson Tide. The two-time defending national champions (who faced much scrutiny themselves for their off-the-field actions this week, according to an ESPN report) roll into College Station looking to exact revenge for their 29-24 defeat in Tuscaloosa last year, where the eventual Heisman Trophy winner did this:
The “Johnny Football” effect may have simply taken out any other of the various possible story lines from this game. Almost no attention has been payed this week to the man under center for the Crimson Tide, redshirt senior A.J. McCarron. You know, the guy who only has two losses EVER in his three years as a starting quarterback? The same guy who has been a part of three ‘Bama national championship teams (was redshirting when Alabama won the 2009 title), and one of the most efficient passers in the country.
Yet almost none of the national media has even acknowldged McCarron’s presence in the game, and won’t until the opening kickoff. Because there is simply nothing better than some good old fashioned Johnny Football.
In the span of a little more than a year at A&M, Manziel has blossomed from redshirt to surprise starter to Heisman contender to a global brand. Suddenly, just about everyone wanted to know about the “legend of Johnny Football”. Texas A&M fans quickly rushed out to get the new number two jerseys, the Johnny Football images and memorabilia that many feel that they should be compensated for. The school was running Manziel’s name for a profit, and yet because of the NCAA’s policies, he couldn’t see a dime of it.
Just over a month before this year’s season was to begin, the report of an NCAA investigation into Manziel’s actions surrounding taking money for autographs broke. For the next week, it seemed as if all of sports media was on Manziel Watch. It was captivating, and really shows how important the immature 20-year-old from Kerryville, TX had become to the college football landscape. It was almost as if Manziel was bigger than the NCAA, and even he perhaps knew that.
Following the investigation, the NCAA revealed that Manziel would be suspended for the first half of his team’s opener vs. Rice, a much lower suspension than was even intimidated. Do I care about Manziel getting suspended? Not really, because perhaps he was lying again to the media and was preparing from the game form the start. Should it have been longer? YES. Jim Tressel was fired, and Terrelle Pryor was suspended six games two years ago for violating those same rules but with tattoos instead of authographs at Ohio State.
In a way, however, this argument is long overdue. Is just an education enough? Or should athletes have something to compensate them if somebody decides that their name is worth that amount of compensation.
Manziel is the perfect spokesperson for that, and his reputation and personality may just be enough to bring a real change. And if he suddenly wins the Heisman again, he shall have as much power within the fans of college football that the NCAA may simply have to make a change. His wild, and often stupid actions may have gotten Manziel scrutiny throughout his time at Texas A&M, but they may also be what makes him most relatable and are justifiable due to the fact that Manziel was simply enjoying the college experience by making ridiculous, reckless decisions just as many people have in high school and college.
Even if Manziel ever does decide to try to fight this crusade against the NCAA, it is unlikely that Manziel will have to face anybody in 2013 as challenenging as that Tide squad. But if he does, he has my support. The legend of “Jonny Football” continues this Saturday at 10:30 a.m. from Kyle Field in College Station, TX (CBS).