Johnny Manziel Has No One to Be Accountable to but Himself and His Team
The noise surrounding Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel has grown to a deafening roar. Everything the reigning Heisman winner does is put into the media chamber and amplified. The reverberation is too loud not to hear.
Over the weekend, it was about his attendance of a frat party at the University of Texas. Texas fans acted up as Manziel attempted to have a good time with his friends, and the media world went crazy as news of the events broke. ESPN not only showed the video of him being tossed from the party but also bought into the hype surrounding the story.
Here is where everyone needs to stop.
Take a step back.
Have a deep breath or two.
Johnny Manziel does not play football for you. He is not your kid. He is not your student. He is not your employee. Johnny Manziel is not even one of the kids you babysit after school until one of the kid's parent can get off work and pick him or her up.
In other words, he does not have to answer to you. He does not have to live according to your standards.
Yet the entire Manziel narrative, over the span of this offseason, has revolved around fans and the media imposing their standards on the quarterback, who has made it clear he is only interested in living up to his own.
The drive-by parents and everyone involved in television, on the Internet and in the Twitter world have to realize something: Johnny Football's already got a daddy. More importantly, for this discussion, he also already has a coach and a group of guys in that locker room he must answer to on a daily basis.
Media and public accountability are ideals created to better connect the athletes to the masses. They make people feel safe. They make people feel in control and, at times, even holier than thou. It is about forcing an arbitrary moral standard on public figures who fans and the media have deified.
Some players accept it and live by the new standards. Some are far enough under the radar that the standards are never imposed upon them. Others, and this is where Manziel fits in, just refuse to be what everyone else wants them to be.
They opt, instead, to be themselves.
When being "themselves" is something non-threatening, that quality is embraced. When being "themselves" scares folks, it is ripped to shreds under the guise of this arbitrary moral code.
Manziel has people to whom he must be accountable. He sees those people almost every single day. They are there when he goes to throw 7-on-7s. They are there when he is in the weight room. They are there when he watches film. They will be there when fall camp begins.
And they will be there when he takes the field come August 31 against Rice.
More importantly, though, they have been there for him. When he was a nobody recruit. When he was not even expected to be the starter. When he got arrested. When he won the starting job. When he led them from obscurity to a top-10 ranking.
That coaching staff and those players have been in the trenches with Manziel. What the newcomers to the party—brought on by the win over Alabama, the Heisman and the Cotton Bowl—are seeing is the same kid who coaches and teammates have known since he arrived on campus.
They know how Johnny Football gets down, and while pundits shout and people argue over Twitter, Manziel remains the leader in that locker room that he grew into a season ago. Those are the guys whose eyes he looks into every single day.
If Manziel can look into their eyes, and they can look into his, and they can perform at a high level, then none of the other business matters.
Those are the people to whom Manziel must be accountable. Not the writers. Not the Heisman voters. Not the fans. Not the public.
He is not here to be your hero. He's not here to be your role model. He's here to play football and have a little fun in the process.
And as long as the men in that locker room are happy with it, that's all that matters.
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