Everyone who follows college football in the south knows the name Johnny Manziel. While some might know more than others, the basics are what matters. He was the first ever freshman quarterback to win the ultimate individual award in college ball: The Heisman Trophy. Last season he seemed to be an all american quarterback that our nation could love and admire. However, in a matter of months his image has spiraled from hero to villain due to the NCAA launching an investigation on Manziel this fall based on reports that he allegedly accepted money for autographs from memorabilia brokers. The accusations came about when certain brokers admitted to paying Manziel for autographs and had pictures to prove it. After an investigation that lasted less than a week, the NCAA suspended Manziel for the first half of The Aggies season opener against Rice.
While fans everywhere breathed a sigh of relief, others weren’t too thrilled. Many people thought that Manziel got off entirely too easily for his actions, and they thought he should have been punished more harshly. In 2009 Oklahoma State wide receiver Dez Bryant was suspended by the NCAA for most of his last season at OSU due to allegedly lying about his relationship with NFL player Deion Sanders. People seem to think Manziel’s actions were far worse, and that he should be thankful he got off much more easily than Bryant. His story definitely shows what could happen when the NCAA decides to bring the hammer down. Some fans seemed to think he should have been punished more severely, while others assumed he learned his lesson seeing as he is only in his sophomore season.
Johnny Manziel (Photo credit: Scott Halleran/Getty Images)
Were people being a bit too hard on ole’ Johnny Football after his glittering freshman season? Maybe so, but what seemed clear is that the NCAA’s punishment only made Manziel seem more defiant. Johnny Football taunted opposing players with his “show me the money” and “autograph” antics the entire game, and he finally got slapped with unsportsmanlike conduct at the end of the fourth quarter. While head coach Kevin Sumlin tried to reel in his quarterback by benching him in the game’s final minutes, the nation had already taken note. Was this an embarrassment to the program or a blessing in disguise? This is exactly what Texas A&M needed to stand next to the big dogs. Alabama has Nick Saban. LSU has Les Miles. Both men previously mentioned are feared simply based on their disregard for public opinion of themselves.
Manziel has the chance to step into the role of the villain for his team. There is nothing wrong with being the bad guy in college football because there is one thing we know about them, they’re feared. Johnny doesn’t seem to care who likes him, as long as he gets to play. While you may or may not appreciate his actions lately, the fact of the matter is that he can play. Manziel has simply realized he doesn’t need to be liked to win games, and that mentality is why we love to hate Johnny Football.