Johnny Manziel will meet — and feel — the press at SEC media day
BY STEVE GREENBERG firstname.lastname@example.org July 16, 2013 6:36PM
Updated: July 17, 2013 10:03AM
HOOVER, Ala. — There’s been fighting and drinking, fake IDs and inflammatory tweets, attention-seeking antics and the wafting scent of household-name fame gone awry.
Not to mention a Heisman Trophy and perhaps the most dazzling debut season in college football history.
Here in SEC country, Johnny Manziel isn’t just the biggest thing since Tim Tebow. He’s equal parts boy wonder and morbid curiosity — factors that add up to a Johnny Football obsession.
Manziel will feel the full force of his phenomenal rise Wednesday morning, when he’s scheduled to sit and speak before a media horde that could number 1,000 or more. More than anything else, they’ll grill him for answers about his latest controversy: a premature exit from the Manning Passing Academy in Thibodaux, La., where Manziel was serving — not very well at all, mind you — as a counselor.
Manziel, 20, was sent home from the camp for middle-school and high school quarterbacks Sunday after missing — blowing off? — multiple meetings and drill sessions. Statements released by Manziel’s family and the Manning camp said the superstar was suffering from dehydration. Meanwhile, scuttlebutt spread that Manziel had spent much of the weekend partying.
Did we mention football’s only freshman Heisman winner pleaded guilty Monday to a misdemeanor charge stemming from a 2012 arrest for brawling on the street and improperly identifying himself to police?
Manziel shattered Cam Newton’s SEC single-season yardage records, led a shocking victory at No. 1 Alabama and carried the Aggies to an 11-2 finish in 2012. Absolutely no one around this spectacularly good league saw any of that coming.
Lately, though, Manziel is giving folks a glimpse of something else: a cautionary tale.
“Not all student-athletes fulfill the high expectations we have for them,” SEC commissioner Mike Slive said Tuesday. “It is a crushing disappointment when a young person throws away the opportunity for a promising future.”
Slive wasn’t speaking of Manziel directly. After all, this is major college football; there are enough bad apples to go around. But none of them has the same “it” factor, the same raging appeal, of College Station’s mad scrambler and maker of mischief.
On Wednesday, Manziel will face a barrage of cameras, microphones and pointed questions that will put more heat on him than any pass rush ever has. Ultimately, everyone wants to know the same thing: Can Johnny be good?