Why Texas A&M's Johnny Manziel Has Captured America's Attention

Lisa Horne@LisaHornePac-12 and Big 12 Lead WriterJanuary 16, 2013

NEW YORK, NY - DECEMBER 08:  Quarterback Johnny Manziel of the Texas A&M University Aggies speaks after being named the 78th Heisman Memorial Trophy Award winner at a press conference at the Marriott Marquis on December 8, 2012 in New York City.  (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images)
Mike Stobe/Getty Images

Tim Tebow seems like such a long time ago.

In an era of college football where Tim Tebow's homespun virginal qualities were embraced by half of the college football fan population and eschewed by the other half, something had to give. Could we just find a happy medium where a kid could be a tremendous athlete, have a little wild hair, stay within the limits of the law, entertain the masses with teasing pictures and remind us of our college days?

Tim Tebow was the exception to most college football players and he arrived on the college scene at just the right time. He was the antithesis of the Kardashians and almost every other reality show that depicts young college-aged kids making oodles of money for being disrespectful to their parents, using foul language and getting paid by networks to party all night and act like degenerates. America needed Tebow.

While most mothers pointed to Tebow as the perfect example of the kind of guy they would like their daughters to date—and I admit to being one of them—deep down inside, they knew he wouldn't likely be "the one."  

While Mr. Tebow is certainly a nice young man with seemingly admirable qualities, deep conviction and tremendous athletic ability, we tired of the young man who could pass for Wally and Beaver Cleaver's missing triplet. It's akin to the revelation of realizing Barney the purple dinosaur—once an awesome role model for your toddler—really annoys the hell out of you.

Tebow isn't annoying but his nice guy persona makes you a tad skeptical. Is he really that nice? Are Barney's friends really that sugary sweet? Probably not because most kids that age really don't act that way. Eight-year old kids aren't singing "Please and thank you." They're demanding iPhone 5s and watching Mackelmore's "Thrift Shop" from their YouTube accounts. 

Kids have changed and despite our tendency to hang on to what we consider idealistic standards, we do adjust our attitudes as the world changes around us. Parents aren't stupid, but they can be had.

Most college kids like their parents to think they are hitting the library every night and never letting a drop of alcohol pass over their lips—most parents know better.

Johnny "Football" Manziel's world represents how a lot of kids want to experience college. He's the social media's version of a toned-down Animal House. You don't want your kids doing that kind of stuff but when that flick is on your television, you tune in because deep, down inside, you wish you could have been that reckless and carefree for one day—without the ensuing consequences. You were rooting for bad boys John Blutarsky and Eric Stratton and despising good students Doug Neidermeyer and Greg Marmalard.

Let's face it, adults can be real hypocrites.

Manziel is having a blast in college and he's certainly not doing anything reckless but his actions have caught the eye of Oklahoma defensive coordinator Mike Stoops, who lobbed a couple of cheap shots at Manziel before later apologizing for them. But instead of making a personal apology to Manziel, Stoops reportedly did it through a school spokesperson. You would expect that sort of apology from a teenager but not from a 51-year-old man who mentors student athletes, right?  

While coaches constantly teach their players to be responsible, be wary of posting pictures via social media sites and focus on academics, Johnny Football has put their sensible advice into question by partying it up—with pictures as proof—and winning the Heisman all in one year. Joe Namath would be proud.

Manziel was with a sexy blonde on Halloween and a bottle of Dom Perignon and a fistful of casino cash after a Cotton Bowl victory. Manziel has been criticized for holding a bottle of champagne while being under-aged, but according to a TMZ report, Manziel was accompanied by his mother which makes his possible consumption of alcohol legal. 

Manziel destroyed Oklahoma with over 500 passing and rushing yards and instead of soaking in an ice tub, he's destroying a casino's dealer.

The kid can't lose. He's living la vida loca and nobody—OK, almost nobody—is rooting against him.  

And if it weren't for that bleep-eating grin on his face, we swear we would hate him. But we can't because he is loving every minute of his life. And he's doing it as a student-athlete.

Without pay.

Johnny Manziel has somehow made some us feel a little less guilty about kids going out and risking injury while making schools millions of dollars. Manziel is proof that student-athletes can enjoy the college football experience and lessen our guilt about a student-athlete's widely perceived servitude to a university. Manziel doesn't talk about the "grind." He just sticks a sparkler in his mouth, gives us a double-fist pump pose and ostensibly appears to be telling the world, "bring it."

Sure his school is probably a bit alarmed at his eccentric behavior but so far, he's pushing the limits without crossing that unacceptable line. He was reportedly arrested last June for being involved in a fight and producing a fake ID, but he hasn't been found guilty by a court of law as far as we know. So far, so good.

Every kid used to want to be like Mike. Now he wants to be like Johnny Football. 

So now Tim Tebow has gracefully passed the torch to Johnny Manziel. America has a new hero.

Tebow will no doubt be successful in whatever he does in his life because of his moral compass—we won't have to worry about seeing his face in a mugshot book. We enjoyed his leadership, his promise, his tears and his sportsmanship at the University of Florida. Tebow was chicken soup for our souls. 

But now we've turned our attention to a young man who has captured college life via his twitter account. Johnny Manziel is a bottle of Captain Morgan Spiced Rum—a fun alternative after you've supped on chicken soup for a whole week because eventually you need a little texture in which to sink your teeth. 

We are sneakingly and hesitatingly giving our approval of Manziel's antics because we are living our lives vicariously through Manziel. Admit it, America, you smile when you see him doing Johnny Football stuff both on and off the field. Roll your eyes at Johnny Football when your kids are around you but when they're in the other room doing their homework...secretly enjoy that sudden flashback of when you tried to drive a car with a manual transmission while wearing roller skates. 

Thank goodness our parents didn't know everything we did in college. Thank goodness our kids probably won't do all the things we did in college—but if they do, we'll know about it through their instagram, snapchat and twitter accounts. 

Thank goodness there are still some student athletes playing football who are taking full-advantage of their athletic prowess and making a different type of hay.

Thank goodness for college football and Johnny Manziel.  


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