The Truth About Johnny Manziel

Updated: August 1, 2013

Johnny Manziel

By now, you’re likely familiar with the Worldwide Leader’s exposé on Johnny Manziel. It provided an intimate glimpse into the life of the talented quarterback in the wake of the infamous tweet heard round the world:

@JManziel2: Bullshit like tonight is a reason why I can’t wait to leave college station…whenever it may be

The backdrop for the piece was Manziel’s hometown where he had presumably fled for cover. Lord knows when the going gets tough, even the toughest of us sometimes get going toward home, as who better to straighten you out than your family?

Only Manziel’s family comes off every bit as unstable as their famous son, especially Johnny’s dad, Paul. If you’re curious as to what the elder Manziel looks like, google the word enabler, as his picture will most certainly appear alongside of it.

Because that’s what Paul seems to be — a well-intended, but very misguided enabler who has helped his son to attain a level of self consumption that even the Kardashians find tacky.

If the Manziels have good reason to be embarrassed by the ESPN piece (and, in my estimation, they definitely do), then Texas A&M has good reason to be downright angry. As the Manziels are openly critical of the Aggie athletic department as well as head coach, Kevin Sumlin.

From the Manziels’ perspective, everyone, from Sumlin to the school to the NCAA, seems to care deeply, even profoundly, about helping him through, just a little bit less than they care about helping themselves.

But the Manziel’s aren’t just critical from 30,000 feet. They take it to ground level, too. In the piece, Paul refers to an Aggie athletic department official as an “asshole.”

The official’s offense? Failing to return a text quickly enough for Paul’s liking. The official had recently met with Johnny Manziel and Kevin Sumlin, and Paul had texted to find out if “everything was okay.”

Why he’d not simply asked his son wasn’t explained, though I suspect Paul’s answer would have been rooted in A&M’s ongoing conspiracy against its most famous student.

This is the exact type of “me-against-the-world” garbage that has rendered Johnny Manziel so unlikeable to so many. And the fact that Manziel’s dad has the same mentality is hard to imagine.

But then again, I can’t imagine enabling my child to reach a level of self consumption that borders on the pathological, either. Were I Paul, I’d be reminding my kid every damn day that he’s no different than anyone else. Because, truly, even famous football players are a dime a dozen.

Not Paul Manziel. He talks about his son in hushed, reverent tones as if the younger Manziel were some type of delicate football genius. “I really don’t know what makes him tick.”

A delicate football genius who will forever be tortured by the fame his unique skill set has so cruelly thrust upon him. When asked what Johnny Manziel might say if things continued to unravel and his hard partying ways landed him in jail, Paul went with:

“It’s better than all the pressure I’ve been under. This [jail] is better than that.” 


Even the author, Wright Thompson, seems to have consumed his fair share of the Manziel Kool Aid, as the article does nothing but romanticizes the self consumption which drives the entire family. Thompson’s piece is downright decadent, nearly 6,000 words long, and littered with impossibly hokey lines like:

Johnny disappears. His body is in the chair, but he’s gone.
Slowly, Johnny climbs out of his private hole.
Johnny is surrounded by friends and family, and yet he seems completely alone.

Gimme a break.

Look, I’m not saying that there’s no truth to the Manziels’ contention that their son’s runaway fame has put him in a fishbowl. And I’m not saying that I don’t empathize with Johnny Manziel to an extent, as you’d have to be a fool to not realize how tough it would be to have your every move micro-analyzed.

But I am saying this: every single thing has an upside and a downside, and fame is no exception. And I don’t see Manziel bitching about winning college football’s most coveted award. I don’t see him complaining about meeting LeBron James. I’ve never heard him gripe about his extended hangout with Drake. And I’ve never heard him bellyache about the five-star ass the guy pulls on a regular basis.

Why, then, must he continually gripe about fame’s unavoidable inconveniences? Why must he always resort to the “you have no idea how tough my life is” defense whenever he’s behaved like a jackass? Such antics aren’t exactly helping him become a more sympathetic figure in the public’s eye. You know why?

Because there’s a fine line between asking people to walk a mile in your shoes and simply being an asshole.

John Pennington wrote an open letter to Johnny Manziel on his site, In it, he offers the Heisman winner a little unsolicited advice — four steps for Johnny Football to follow to make himself a healthier, happier and more successful person.

Coincidentally, I, too, have some steps I think Johnny Football should follow to make himself a healthier, happier and more successful person.

Step I: Get the f*ck over yourself.
Step II: There is no step II. Just get the f*ck over yourself. That’s it.

Because if Johnny Manziel can manage to somehow grow up enough to get over himself, then he’ll have another great year.

But if he can’t? Then he’ll be a cancer to his team, especially if he and his family continue to openly criticize the school that’s made him famous. And just as he’s imploded off the field under the ever increasing scrutiny his celebrity has brought, so too will he implode on it.

The sporting landscape is littered with the next can’t-miss kid. And if Johnny Manziel and his enabling family can’t stop their unhealthy obsession with the delicate football genius, then, despite all his greatness, Manziel will likely find himself wadded up on the side of some grassy hill in the middle of nowhere.

And that, my friends, is the truth about Johnny Manziel.

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