Johnny Manziel’s perk-filled life comes at a price. He bears a burden that few veteran celebs could gracefully handle, let alone a 20-year-old unaccustomed to the circus.
It’s a burden that comes with incredible opportunities and eventual fortune, but also a spotlight so engulfing that, despite the glaring differences, Manziel and the average college football fan share a distinct sentiment as the offseason marches on.
August 29 can’t get here soon enough.
On Saturday night, Manziel’s often-discussed Twitter feed—the same feed he took a hiatus from earlier—had its most noteworthy moment yet.
He deleted a tweet shortly after hitting send late on Saturday night, according to the Dallas Morning News, but nothing is ever truly off the Internet no matter how prompt the delete. It’s a lesson he knows well by now—one learned through this same 140-character outlet that can viciously turn in an instant.
After deleting the tweet, Manziel added a followup. Although it didn’t quite outline what specially triggered the frustration, it paints a picture. If you believe this picture looks anything like your college experience, rip it up and start over.
Don't ever forget that I love A&M with all of my heart, but please please walk a day in my shoes— Johnny Manziel (@JManziel2) June 16, 2013
With more than 360,000 followers and a sporting world fascinated by his every move, this series of tweets (and deletes) has legs.
What does it mean? Why does he hate Texas A&M? How can someone with a charmed life be so unhappy? He’s a ticking time bomb ready to explode.
It’s easy to draw conclusions from a moment, especially through only a handful of characters on Twitter. The Internet will establish conclusions on its own, because, well, that’s what the Internet does.
That’s not to say that Manziel isn’t struggling to grab hold of a last little bit of normalcy. Clearly he is, and it’s easy to see why. After all, he’s still just a kid.
Think about how you dealt with adversity as a 20-year-old. Now put a crowd of millions in front of you, studying your every response and mannerism.
The moment Manziel conquered Alabama in its own building—and some can argue normalcy was long gone well before this victory—his life drastically changed. Given the aggressive nature of his timeline to fame, perhaps it’s surprising this public frustration didn't boil over sooner.
On June 29 of last year, the college football world learned of Manziel. Not the video game cheat code, Heisman winner or Alabama antidote, but rather an unknown redshirt freshman who was in trouble with the law. Before being named starter for Texas A&M in its first SEC voyage, Manziel was charged with disorderly conduct for fighting with a fake ID in hand.
Less than a year later, Manziel is still generating headlines even in the deepest depths of the offseason. Not for an arrest or off-the-field trouble, but for living his life and allowing the public a small sliver inside what it's like.
You don’t have to feel bad for him as he embarks on his second season as A&M starting quarterback, Heisman Trophy in hand, but rather understand that there’s more to him than touchdowns, Twitpics, handshakes and smiles.
It’s easy to criticize from a distance—assuming somehow these comments mean chaos is brewing—but it’s also unfair to Manziel. Some of this he’s brought upon himself with his willingness and openness to live his life through his Twitter account. Some of it is a product of the environment he’s thriving in.
It’s this environment that will bring some normalcy, and going toe-to-toe with Alabama in less than three months will be welcomed chaos compared to the frenzy of simply trying to leave his apartment. Bring on football.
Fame comes at a price, one that is clearly hampering the college experience of a young man struggling to manage stardom while living the life of a 20-year-old student-athlete.
He's trying to hang on to what's left of his former self, and at this point, it’s not much.