Johnny Manziel would be smart to tone down his act
BY STEVE GREENBERG firstname.lastname@example.org July 17, 2013 8:49PM
Updated: July 18, 2013 11:04AM
HOOVER, Ala. — The heat on Johnny Manziel can simmer down now.
After a few days of being back in the news for all the wrong reasons — blowing off a commitment to Peyton and Eli Manning and pleading guilty to misdemeanor charges stemming from an arrest outside a bar in 2012 — the reigning Heisman Trophy winner gets to return to Texas A&M and resume his life as a quarterback. The Aggies open training camp Aug. 4, and Manziel can enjoy some much-needed quiet time until then.
Unless the itch to draw attention to himself gets the best of him again, that is.
‘‘My offseason, all the stuff that has gone on, will have no effect on this season,’’ Manziel, a 20-year-old sophomore, told a Southeastern Conference media throng of several hundred Wednesday. ‘‘I’m ready to stop. No more talk after this. Let’s play football.’’
Texas A&M coach Kevin Sumlin surely likes the sound of that, but does he believe it? Sumlin applied the social-media clamps after Manziel tweeted in mid-June that he was looking forward to leaving College Station, Texas, behind for good. Since then, Manziel has been tweet-free, meaning no complaints about being wildly famous and no posed photos of himself having a good ol’ time deep into the night.
‘‘Off the field, there’s no question that he’s made some mistakes,’’ Sumlin said.
Most prominently discussed Wednesday was the mistake — or mistakes — that led to Manziel’s premature departure last weekend from the Manning Passing Academy, a camp for high school quarterbacks where Manziel was serving as a counselor. Manziel shot down the rumor he was too hung over to make it to morning activities, although he didn’t deny drinking alcohol the night before.
The problem, Manziel said, was that his ‘‘hectic offseason schedule’’ left him so depleted that he forgot to set an alarm, put in for a wake-up call or charge his phone so someone — perhaps a fellow counselor such as Alabama quarterback AJ McCarron — could call and rouse him from slumber.
‘‘I simply overslept,’’ Manziel said.
McCarron was Manziel’s roommate at the Manning camp. As far as we know, the three-time national champion lived up to all of his commitments. But McCarron isn’t in the same fishbowl as Manziel, who compares his fame to that of pop star Justin Bieber.
Really, that’s what he said Wednesday. Manziel undoubtedly revels in his Johnny Football persona, but it can be a complicated life, too.
‘‘I’m not going for the Miss America pageant,’’ he said. ‘‘I’m playing football. I’m a 20-year-old kid in college. You can take that for what it’s worth.’’
It’s worth as much as any other excuse. Manziel might find the need to explain himself disappear if he’d just button things up a bit.
‘‘I’m still going to live life to the fullest,’’ he said.
It sounded rather like a warning.