The Washington Times-Herald

Columns

August 1, 2013

Manziel far from finished product

WASHINGTON — Johnny Manziel is just a kid. This has been the most inescapable fact during the college football offseason, which has seen Manziel go from a normal college student, who plays football, to a national celebrity in a very short time. He plays golf at Pebble Beach, visits Drake on tour and sits court side at NBA games.

In short, Manziel lives the life every college student could dream of — unfortunately there is a dark flip side to his charmed life. At every turn his detractors scream louder and louder about all of his flaws. A 20-year-old student athlete with flaws? Imagine that.

Manziel lives in the biggest of fishbowls, and there isn't any way any person of any age could understand the meteoric rise from a kid, who was arrested last summer with two fake ids, to the first freshman to win the Heisman Trophy. The reality is that at just 20- years old, he's the biggest name in sports. Every single tweet he sends out is put under a microscope on Sportscenter. He needs a police escort home after football games. He reached the individual pinnacle in a sport and conference that yearns for a player like Johnny Football.

His celebrity has engulfed his life in nearly every facet. His life trajectory was drastically changed during the 2012 college football season. The life he might have lived is gone and what remains is half dream and half nightmare. I shutter to think what will happen if Manziel leads his Aggie teammates to a 10-2 regular season record and another Cotton Bowl victory. Even an undefeated season and a National Championship might not be enough to satisfy his critics.

Manziel changed the game and the expectations have never been higher for any college athlete. Not even Tim Tebow dealt with this kind of scrutiny. Tebow's mix of devout Christianity, man-child physique and public virginity made him the poster child of how a collegiate athlete is supposed to act. Manziel parties, dates models and wins games against college football's Bill Belichick — Nick Saban. We really don't know much if anything about the real Johnny Manziel, we simply know the exploits and flaws of Johnny Football.

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