Odds are that if you’ve ever watched an episode of SportsCenter in your life, you’re more than familiar with some of the following names: Tim Tebow, LeBron James, Tiger Woods and now, Johnny (Football) Manziel. As quarterback of one of college football’s best teams, Texas A&M, it’s understandable that Manziel would receive some attention (and criticism) from the media. But how much is too much?
He’s dated super models and he’s attended 2013 NBA Finals games. He’s been thrown out of University of Texas frat parties while having beer thrown at him. He’s been caught signing autographs in exchange for thousands of dollars (allegedly). Oh, and did I mention that whole part about him being the only player in NCAA history to win the Heisman trophy as a freshman?
At the age of just 20 years old, Johnny Football is the most polarizing athlete in sports right now. We drop our jaws in awe of his talent, yet gawk at his seemingly extravagant lifestyle. We clap for his touchdowns and the ensuing celebrations, but gasp at stories of his “reckless” party habits.
Much of the media portrays Manziel as young, arrogant and destructive. The same group of people that tear down Manziel for being such an awful role model are also the same people that give him more coverage than any other athlete in America. Kind of ironic, if you ask me.
Johnny Football is everything you could ask for when dreaming up a polarizing athlete. To put it simply, he’s nothing short of an absolute star, one of which I’m not sure college football has quite seen before. I’m not saying that college football has never seen a star player before, just not one quite like Johnny Football.
So maybe the media’s portrayal of Manziel is fair. Maybe he really is just an irresponsible college quarterback who only cares about himself. Maybe he really is a detriment to his team in terms of off-field publicity. Or, maybe, just maybe, the media is overreacting to a college athlete who lives his life the same way any of us would if we were in his shoes.
Manziel has garnered the reputation of being a “partier,
” a stigma that has been connected to his irresponsibility and recklessness. And, for some reason, the media seems surprised by this idea that a college student isn’t perfect.
You’re telling me that a 20-year-old college student who’s on TV and newspapers across the country likes to flaunt a little bit? That a college quarterback who has women thrown at him and parties thrown for him might not be fully grown up and mature yet? You don’t say!
Fourteen months ago, no one knew who Manziel was. Now, he’s among the most famous athletes in sports, yet he doesn’t deserve any credit for making that transformation? There are two different schools of thought on this topic, but I have a hard time believing that the NCAA has more of a right to Manziel’s own name than he does.
So, when everything is taken into consideration, what exactly has Manziel done that has been so detrimental to society? With the way that some media outlets, specifically ESPN, criticize Manziel, you’d think he was Walt White.
Unlike Dorothy Mantooth, Johnny Football is no saint. He’s not perfect, and I think even he realizes that. And while I realize that Manziel isn’t the perfect role model, I also realize that he’s not the worst role model either. Far from the worst, actually.
Sift through some sports headlines and you’ll see stories of Aaron Hernandez’s murder case and MLB’s steroid scandal.
When you compare these headlines to Johnny Football’s criticisms of underage partying and making money off of his OWN name, you begin to realize that maybe Johnny Football isn’t that bad of a guy. Maybe he’s actually a really good guy who catches a bad rap due to the media having their own agenda. Maybe most of the writers that criticize Manziel are just, well, flat out jealous? No, no, that can’t be.
After all, the media would never defame or criticize someone just to fit their own agenda, right? Yeah, right.
Bottom line: Don’t let the media tell you how to feel or what to believe. Sure, the media can tell you what to think about (ex. Johnny Football), but you shouldn’t let media decide how you think about something. Once we start doing that, we lose our independence as a breathing, thinking being and simply become just another robot for the media to hardwire and program.