Friday, September 6, 2013

A Case For Johnny Manziel

Hurrah for Johnny Manziel!

Turns out that the Texas A&M QB, who looked like he was going to be another angelic, goody-goody when he defied the odds and won the Heisman Trophy as a freshman last year, is really an lovable outlaw. Good for him.

In that coveted Heisman-winner position, did we really need another respectable, God-fearing gentleman, the kind that avoids night clubs and bars, the kind that's buried in books and football and never has any fun? We've had too many of them already.

What we have in Manziel is a bar-hopping, skirt-chasing rogue with crazy-frat-boy instincts, a high-spirited kid who's getting in touch with his inner wild-child while adjusting to sudden fame. He's a real rebel, a guy who plays by his own rules, who's full of swagger, who treats his opponents with disdain. He's better than other players and he knows it, and acts like it.

The key ingredient is swagger. All the greats have it, lots of it. Manziel oozes swagger. He has enough to full a dozen star players. It's what separates him from the pack, what makes him Johnny Football.

Since he won the Heisman, Manziel has been working overtime to tarnish his image.Here's the list of charges against him. It ain't pretty. Yes, at times he's acted like an out-of-control frat boy. Yes, he's been boozing too hard and running around with too many women and doing way too much bar-hopping. Yes, he got kicked out of a football camp for misbehaving Yes, in last Saturday's Rice rout, he was penalized for taunting, for engaging in a trash-talking war with a couple of surly Owls. Yes, he got kicked out of the game and didn't take kindly to be chewed out by his coach, Kevin Sumlin..

Oh yes, there's that accusation of signing autographs for money. Man guilty. According to underground sources, he's been paid under the table for signing autographs, earning, some speculate, six figures. So what.  Big-time college players break this rule all the time, making cash under the table, trying to get a piece of the pie they helped bake. There's a thriving autograph business going on right under the NCAA's nose and they're too stupid to see it. Word in the underground is that Manziel was caught because he got into a beef with an autograph-peddler, who leaked details the OB's signing-for-pay to the media.

This is hardly a major crime. Even the NCAA, generally a bone-headed organization, knows it. They thought so little of this violation that they just slapped Manziel on the wrist--suspending him for the first half of the season opener against crappy Rice. The NCAA wanted to bury that mess as quickly as possible and let Manziel get ready for next week's A&M-Alabama match, one of the year's top games.

What counts is what Manziel does on the field. He's a gifted player, a skilled passer, a daredevil scrambler and a superb leader. Sources inside the Aggies camp report that the players love Manziel, that he's a fine teammate.That's what really matters. Remember, this is the guy who, as a freshman, stormed into Tuscaloosa last November and took down No.1 Alabama. You know what that took.

Manziel is a collegiate version of Broadway Joe Namath, the masterful, ground-breaking, 1960s New York Jets QB who played hard and partied harder. Manziel is Namath Jr. In the reckless style of Broadway Joe, Manziel will be in the headlines--some good some bad--for years to come..

Manziel is like a kid with a sweet-tooth who's been turned loose in a candy store. Let him have his fun..So he's not role-model material. Who cares? As long his playing skills aren't effected, there's really no harm done. One thing you can be sure of--Manziel loves football too much to let his off-field antics.keep him from bringing his A-game to every game.

 He may be a rebel and, at times, too wild, but he's no dummy.